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Choke cable

Neil Potter

792 views

August 2013

The choke cable which came with my car was loose in the dash, and didn't seem to move the cams on the carbs very much even when I held it in place. The light on the dash didn't work either. Hardly an urgent fix, but an annoyance I got round to looking at over the summer.

The cable itself was, I think, original and definitely well corroded. In the engine bay the outer cable had been cut off at some point and a new outer gaffer taped on to the old one. I found that the plastic barrel of the old choke control had broken near the knob, preventing it from being fitted properly using the clip I'd managed to source from SJs (who unfortunately didn't have the control itself). When I removed the control and cut the cable, I found that the inner had rusted and ballooned near the control, making it sticky and adding slack to the whole thing. Full replacement was the only option.

[i]Sourcing parts[/i]
It turns out, after a bit of research, that the control itself is also used on late original Minis, and is known as a "ratchet type choke control". Available from the venerable Mini spares community. I think I paid £12.50 for mine from [url="http://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/CLASSIC-MINI-CHOKE-CABLE-RATCHET-TYPE-1987-ONWARDS-/360869303368?pt=UK_CarsParts_Vehicles_CarParts_SM&hash=item54057c9448"]this place[/url] or similar. This DOESN'T come with the micro-switch for the telltale light, which the Esprit control has clipped to the control barrel, but it DOES come with a plastic clip in its place. You'll need to swap this with the original microswitch. The only real problem is that the cable the new control is attached to is far too short for the Esprit!

So I also bought myself about 4m of stainless bike gear cable, and the same length of teflon-coated outer cable (Jagwire brand). I think I went for 1.5mm diameter inner cable. The Jagwire outer comes in loads of different colours if you're inclined to have an odd-colour cable in your engine bay. Think I've said it before, but Ebay is an absolute godsend to anyone looking for small quantities of odd things to put on old cars.

Then I had a think about how to connect it all up. Not my area of expertise...

[i]Soldering[/i]
I had a think about cable connectors, but didn't think the cable would work properly unless it was one length of inner and outer. Eventually I looked into silver soldering; which is heavier duty than the electrical soldering I'm familiar with. I bought some solder, some flux and a small "creme brulee" blowtorch in preparation.

What I ended up doing was cutting the inner cable on the new choke control at the end of the control rod itself (the metal rod with the cable at one end and the knob at the other, which sits in the holder). Then I used the Dremel to basically gouge out the cable where it was welded into the tip of the rod. I was left with a deepish groove, which could accommodate the new cable. I laid in the new cable and covered it with flux and pieces of solder, and heated it all up. Took a while to get the solder to melt and run properly, but eventually you end up with a strong joint. It needs to be flush to the rod so as to refit to the holder.

[i]Refitting[/i]
Once you have the long cable attached to your new control you can go ahead and take trim pieces out to get the outer cable threaded through from the engine bay into the cabin through the bulkhead grommet behind the map pocket. The new outer will run aong the top of the transmission tunnel and down one of the gaps at the bottom corners of the HVAC assembly, into the innards of the dash. After a bit of faffing in the Lotus position, you'll have it somewhere near where the choke control should be.

Now you're on the home straight - just thread the end of the new inner cable through the hole in the dash, into the new outer, and through into the engine bay. I connected the end of the choke cable outer to the end of the new outer with duck tape - not ideal but does the job. You may want to cut the choke control outer down to size so this connection happens where the cable runs fairly straight.

You can now fit the control into the dash and secure it with the retaining clip. This isn't a totally satisfying fixture by the way, the control seems to wobble a bit, but much better than letting it dangle in the hole. There's a blue and white wire with a crimped terminal to connect up to the microswitch.

All that remains is to take up the slack in the engine bay and fiddle with the 7mm bolts on the choke linkage across the carbs in order to fix the inner cable in place. There's also a clamp for the outer. Cap the inner with a crimp-on cable ferrule if you can, will stop it fraying.

[i]Results[/i]
All works, and a nice new dashboard fitting. Using the choke does boost the idle when cold starting, but isn't exactly necessary.

But it's still worth doing IMO. If you have carbs in your car you should be rightly proud of the old tech and relieved you won't have to buy new cats one day. You should carry with you the faint whiff of petrol and enjoy the need to balance the carbs every few months. If the apocalypse hits you'll be one of the last cars on the road as the EMP will fry everyone else's ECUs. You should most definitely celebrate all this with a nice new choke control if you need one!

I'll go find me coat.


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