Repairs to windsceen surround on taxi
    Welding the windscreen surround. 
    A very common fault on these taxi cabs is the bottom of the windscreen surround letting water in straight into the footwells.The screen surround then rots,quickly making the problem worse.Even when new,leaks round the windscreen would let water in and on to the fuse box on the drivers side.Water also gets in past the seals where the wiper wheel boxes go through the body.
    This one wasn't too bad but water was still getting in,the windscreen rubber had perished and wasn't sealing well.Cleaning with a rotary wire brush revealed a few pin holes but the important section welded inside which holds the surround flat was pretty much intact.Later.I had to weld small plates in the floor and repair the bulkhead under the washer bottle,all rotted out by water getting in via the windscreen.
    Heavy corrosion on windscreen surround
    Some lengths of steel were shaped and welded in where the screen surround had corroded.The surround is formed from the outer section which houses the air vent and a inner which gives rigidity and strength.This was rusted near one wiper drive box and a new piece was let in behind the dashboard and the two pieces plug welded along the top.
    The fuse board is ideally placed to catch water coming through the leaky windscreens and the terminals soon corrode,electrical problems are frequent events with these cabs..
    Taxi dashboard removal.
    I bought a new screen rubber to try and cure the windsreen leaks and took the dash out to fit the screen back in.Despite that it cracked and I decided to call out a local company to fit a new one.Flat laminated glass cracks easily and this really is one job that should be left to professionals.It might have been easier to fit the older pattern windscreen rubber with its chrome plastic insert.
    Windscreen replacement on a taxi
    The team from Windscreen Direct in Lowestoft who fitted the screen made my efforts look rather sad.I used them to replace the screen on my old mercedes motorhome and as before they did a super job,quickly and at a very good price.
    Thanks lads!
    I found the rear screen let water in with the result that the boot filled with water.I tried a non setting black sealer pumped between the rubber and the body and this seems to have worked.It seems the rubbers when old can no longer make a waterproof seal with the vinyl roof.The vinyl roof was in poor condition and was later removed.Ordinary black boot polish helps keep the rubbers soft and water beads on them so is less likely to penetrate.
     
    Headlight eyelids
     Taxi chrome bumpers.
     
    I made the taxi some stainless steel eyebrows for the headlights.I think it makes it look friendly and a bit sleepy all at the same time.
    The bumper blades have since been replaced with chrome plated ones.Despite being (apparently) plated on galvanised steel they are of very poor quality and show signs of rust very quickly..The early Fx4 taxi cabs had chrome bumpers as standard,apparently they are the same as the old Ford Consuls.I've now given up on the crappy chrome bumpers and painted them matt black.

     

     

    Wood door cappings for the interior.

    The taxi was originally painted inside.All that bare paint work reminded me far too much of an old mini van

    I made up some wooden trims and stained them,some better equipped models of the Fairway had these as standard.

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    Fairway front suspension

    The front suspension on these is a conventional double wishbone  arrangement.The front suspension was designed specifically for these taxis.This is a 1993 Carbodies taxi cab so it has front brakes with vented discs,earlier versions of the fairway and the FX4 taxis had drums on the front and most taxi drivers agree the disc set up is much better,the drum brakes grab and make slow speed braking harsh..

    The top wishbone rubber bushes were shot,these are the same as the bushes used on the irs of some early jaguars and replacements are easily sourced.The brake pads were worn almost down to the metal.The pads on the nearside have a wire for a low pad warning light.
    Fairway front suspension showing coil spring and wishbones
    Another view of the off side front suspension showing the two flexible brake pipes and the power steering box.Just visible behind the pipes is the top wishbone pivot bolt partially drawn out during replacement of the top swivels.The swivels are rubber bushed and were also used on the rear of some early jaguars.
    It can't be seen here but the steering incorporates a streering damper,basically a telescopic shock absorber mounted horizontally,one end attached to the steering arm and the other to the chassis.
    I was suprised that replacing the badly worn joints and swivels seemed to make little difference to the ride or handling.It seems the fairway is one of those vehicles that drives reasonably well even with worn out components,all the more reason to check carefully
    Fairway top wishbone and ball joint.

    The vinyl roof heads for the wheely bin.

    The vinyl roof was a bit tatty and coming unglued near the gutters.The vinyl had gone hard and it had been repaired and restuck a time or two in the past. Peeling off the old covering was easy,it seemed the paint on the roof had hardly been rubbed down and there wasn't much glue holding it on either. The vinyl was pulled out from under the window rubbers front and back.

    Removing the vinyl roof on a taxi

    Vinyl roofs glue dried out.

    The glue left behind from the vinyl roof took a long while to shift using turps and a nylon scourer.Rubbing down compound and T cut eventually got a shine on the roof,some touching in was needed where the paint had lifted.

    The rubber seal around the roof mounted illuminated "Taxi" sign was perished.When I put my hand up inside it I could feel great lumps of flaky rusted metal and at first thought the roof had rusted badly

    .Removing the sign revealed it had rusted but the roof was OK.I welded new metal to the underside of the sign and drilled out the broken off screws and retapped the holes.I made a new rubber seal and used a non setting black mastic to try and guarantee a waterproof join to the roof.

    Roof mounted illuminated taxi sign

     
    Reparing the boot channel.
     
    The boot seals weren't actually sealing anything and water was finding its way into the boot.Removing the rubber and yet more dollops of manky sealing compound revealed the channel was rotten and had been poorly welded.Two lengths of steel were bent into shape and welded in place.The rubber was refitted and the seal tested with buckets of water.The boot light switch is a poor design and tries to peel back the rubber seal every time the boot is opened,a metal shield was fitted over it to prevent the switch catching on it.
    .
    Leaking boot seal.
    Webasto engine heater in a taxi.

    Webasto block heater.

    I fitted a Webasto engine pre heater under the bonnet on the inner wing panel between the fuel filter and servo.Fairway taxis have a seperate rear heater and I plumbed it into this.Even with outside temperatures below freezing,ten minutes or so plugged into the mains and the heater in the back is warm and the Nissan diesel starts first turn of the key.

    Nissan 2.7 diesel engine in a fairway taxi

    The engine in a fairway is a low revving 2.7 litre normally aspirated Nissan diesel.To save gassing polar bears later ones are fitted with turbos and catalytic convertors.The engines are renowned for achieving high mileages 300,000 miles isn't regarded as excessive.The vast majority are automatic but there are some manual versions with five speed gearboxes.The brake servo is driven by a pump on the rear of the alternator,if the alternator brakes it causes the engine to lose oil and ther vehicle shouldn't be driven.On the opposite side of the engine is a pump for the power steering driven by a seperate belt..

     

    One problem was the rubber pipes connecting the steel pipes from the automatic gearbox to the cooler at the base of the radiator leaking fluid.They had gone hard,probably due to heat and started to crack.

    The unions in the bottom of the radiator proved impossible to remove and looked like they would tear out of the thin metal of the radiator. Removing the rubber pipes,using a pipe cutter in situ to cut the metal pipes and using compression fittings on the 6mm diameter stubs to replace the rubber sections with teflon lined braided hydraulic high pressure hose was a permanent cure.

    Braided hose fitted to auto box cooler.

     

    Driving a retired taxi as everday transport

    A large and well charged battery is needed to fire any diesel engine in sub zero weather.


    Driving one of these as private transport is fun.The design of the traditional london black cab is donkeys years old,its all a bit agricultural inside but once you're rolling its reasonably light to drive with the power steering,automatic box and servo brakes.The 'overdrive' (which actually locks the torque convertor) drops the revs down on a straight road and they are then reasonably quiet The rear passengers have loads of room and are fascinated by the flashing lights and clicking of the door locks. Expect around 30 mpg and other taxi drivers waving to you,most of them seem to regard the old fairways with nostalgia.

    The boot is small and dominated by the large heavy spare wheel but I've carried wooden pallets and a tumble drier in the back and it's said you can get an upright piano inside.It will carry an eight foot length of timber if its poked through the partition and a four foot by four foot sheet of ply.The doors open very wide and like most taxis this one arrived with ramps for loading a wheel chair.For someone who has a disabled passenger these taxis are ideal and they can carry a wheel chair and three other occupants in the back.

    These taxis are also very strong with their seperate chassis and are also quite heavy.They are considered a safe vehicle for passengers.

    The rear doors on a taxi will automatically lock when the vehicle is travelling at anything over a crawl and when stationary if the foot brake is applied.This avoids passengers running off without paying their fare and is a good safety feature if children are in the car.The windows slide up and down,there are no window winder handles.The rear seat tips up to increase the load space in the rear and the two rear facing seats have flip up seat bottoms much like the old cinema seats.

    Taxi insurance from Compare Crazy,compare the leading UK insurance companies for a fast and competitive quote..

    The body design and construction of the fairway taxi is very similar to the old Austin FX4.Mechanially they are very different.Various engines have been fitted to these over the years from 2.2 leyland diesels to Land Rover units.The brakes were originally drums,later servo assisted on the front which caused some problems with harsh slow speed braking but now disc front,drum rear and servo assistance all round..The engine is the Nissan 2.7 diesel normally coupled to an auto box although there are manual fairway taxis.Despite the design being very old,the fairways use metric fastenings and the taxi mechanic will need metric tools not whitworth or AF.

     

     

    London taxi on home made wooden car ramps

    These home built wooden car ramps were made from eight inch by two inch planks laid one on top of the other,the stops are heavy angle iron.The ramps are very heavy which stops them sliding away as a vehicle mounts them.The timber is in compression and they are enormously strong,much stronger than some light and badly welded iron ones I have seen.

    People often smile at what must be one of the most recognisable vehicles in the world and contrary to the warnings I was given,I've never had a drunk try and climb aboard on a Saturday night.After years of messing about with old cars and vans I can normally source spares cheaply,and these are rather like a glorified kit car or meccano set,everything from the wings to sills are bolted on and they are suprisingly easy to work on for routine servicing.London taxis are full of odd design features like wooden floors in the rear that are removable to check the condition of the chassis. 

    The chassis itself is strong,made of heavy gauge steel and contributes to the weight of these taxi cabs.Its possible to work on the exhaust sitting inside in the dry and warm by simply lifting out a floor board.

    Taxis have removable floor boards made out of ply.

    The Cab and driving controls,
    To the right of the steering wheel are three lights.The red one is a warning light for the fuel filter water trap,if it glows water has built up in the filter.This has to be drained off as water can damage the engine,the injectors and pump.If you feel under the bottom of the fuel filter there is a plastic tap with a pipe coming out of it screwed into the base.Undoing this a couple of turns lets the water and some fuel flow out.Alternatively you can remove the two 13mm bolts holding the filter unit to the inner wing,disconnect the fuel lines and electric plug and holding the unit upright drain it into a jar on the bench.The fuel system will then need bleeding (see below).

    The green light is the high/low gear light.Pressing a switch by the gear selector turns the green light off and engages a sort of overdrive,(actually locking the torque converter) an advantage on motorways.The light should be on (lower gearing) for town use.

    The orange light goes out when the glow plugs have heated enough to start the engine from cold.A second or so later the relay will disconnect with an audible click.The light and relay will stay on for a shorter time if the key is turned back on again after a failed go at starting.

    An odd point is that the cabs should not be driven for any distance with the charging warning light on,this is because the fan belt drives a pump on the back of the alternator which operates various servos in the automatic gearbox.A warning note on the dashboard is intened as a reminder not to drive with the alternator belt missing.


    On top of the dash is an old taximeter I fitted,underneath are various light switches and the controls for a pretty dismal heater.Under that is a radio.The speedo binnacle is I believe the same as a Sherpa or Maestro and the mileometer itself keeps jamming (a common fault apparently) I suppose the Sherpa and Maestro never get to the dizzy realms of all those zeros.Everything is screwed together and absurdly easy to take apart.As with most small manufacturers Carbodies or LTI as they are now known,raid the parts bins of other makers for all sorts of stuff on their vehicles.The door catches are Ford  for instance,and the exterior handles from the older transit range.

    The interior consists of mainly plastic mouldings secured with self tapping screws.A few hours spent checking these are tight and placing stick on foam (draught excluder strip) behind loose or rattling panels makes the interior a quieter place to be.The front wings are held in place with larger self tapping screws, and repairing loose or broken wing fixings (especially the ones at the bottom of the wings where they bolt to the sills) stops the wings shuddering when going over potholes.

    The drivers cabin of a london taxi

    Taxi tantrums.

    Cold starting. When cold weather sets in starting any older diesel gets harder.Diesels need to heat to fire and this has to be generated by the compression in the cylinders,and any heat generated is quickly dissipated by a cold engine.A very worn engine may not be able to generate enough compression to fire the diesel/air mixture,sometimes an ether based spray is used as this burns at a lower temperature but incorrect use can result in a violent explosion inside the cylinders (diesel knock) and as the engine wers further and more compression is lost eventually even this will not allow the engine to fire and run.

    The fairways have an odd glow plug system.When the ignition is first turned on the orange light glows and full power is supplied to the glow plugs.After a few seconds the light goes out and after a few more seconds reduced current is supplied to them via a resistor located in the inlet manifold and a second relay.The relays for this are under the bonnet on the bulkhead on the passengers side of the heater .The injection timing point is also advanced whilst the engine is cold..

    Hi power starters. I fitted a starter rewound to provide more turning power (torque) this turns the engine considerably faster than the old unit and the engine fires almost instantly (in warm weather). The starters are reasonably easy to change ,the inlet manifold can be removed for better access but a decent set of sockets with extensions an UJs are handy.The starter motor bolts are 14mm the top one is the hardest to get to and should really be removed first.

    The battery. Fairway taxis have a large commercial type battery fitted to the o/s under the bonnet. The battery is a type 664 or similar.Around 110 A.H and with a CCA (Cold Cranking Amperage) of around 680 or more.

    Bleeding the fuel system.After renewing the filter,working on the fuel system or draining water from the filter housing the diesel system will need bleeding.Removing the outlet pump from the filter and pushing the plunger up and down should expel air,continue untill a flow of clean air free diesel emerges.If after bleeding the engine doesn't rev a second attempt maybe needed.If the engine still runs roughly cracking off the injector unions and cranking the engine untill diesel comes out should clear the last air from the injection pump.

    Heater plugs. These are wired so that the failure of one means the others carry on working, each is fed by 12 volts.Taking them out (12mm deep socket) and using jump leads or heavy cable to put 12 volts through them should make them glow white hot after just a couple of seconds,if they don't they need replacing.The injectors need a 22mm deep socket,attached to each is a metal spill pipe to return excess fuel,this can crack if the injectors start to turn when undoing the pipes fixing nuts (19mm) leaving a diesel leak.

    Valve clearances. These valve gaps (tappets) are 14 thou hot.Inlet and exhaust are the same.Get the engine hot and take out the heater plugs,turn the engine with a 19mm spanner on the power steering pulley.With Number one at TDC on firing stroke set valves 1,2,3 and 6.With number 4 at TDC on the firing stroke.set valves number 4,5,7 and 8.Turning the engine till the inlet has opened will determine the firing stroke,placing a finger over the heater plug hole will confirm the piston is rising on the compression stroke.

    Headlamps. The dim dip system stopped working,which meant the dipped beam was very dim with the ignition on.Behind the glove box are two relays,one blue for the heated rear window delay and a pink one for the dim dip lights.By taking the relay apart and holding the contacts open the lights worked (bypassing the dim dip) so I fixed the contacts open temporarily,which probably means it will stay like that.As far as I'm aware the dim dip system is no longer a legal requirement in the UK.

    The rear heater.  .The rear passengers in a fairway have their own seperate heater fed by hot water from the engine cooling system and with a couple of switches set into the partition,another switch on the dash overides these.The heater itself is situated just behind the drivers seat.

    The front heater The front interior heater in a fairway is the same as fitted to an MGB (and they weren't a lot of good in them either). A cable operated tap is fitted in the water pipe just above the exhaust manifold to vary the volume of hot water going to the heater.. The heater motor is a generic Lucas one In theory you can unclip the front of the heater to get at the heater rad,in practice you have to remove the whole unit.There are two bolts either side of the heater,one at the top and four inside holding the flap housing.Foam type gaskets are used,these dry out and crumble letting air leak in and out.

    Wipers.The wiper motors are often worn out because of the high mileages these things clock up but the wiper motor is a standard three brush Lucas.The brushes can be bought cheaply and changing them doesn't require any soldering.Turning the wheel boxes and the inner rack round so that they then operate on unworn sections might give them another leases of life.

    Windows. The fairways have one electric window on the passengers side front,the others slide up and down with a spring inside the door holding them in their opened position.Internal window catches stop the windows being operated by light fingered gentlemen from outside.These catches often break and most used fairway taxis have a collection of the broken ends of the catches rattling away in the bottom of the doors.

    The Engine. The low revving Nissan 2.7 diesel engine was fitted to other vehicles in the Nissan range (the Terranno for example) and the newer TX1 taxis.Asking for engine parts for a fairway at a motor factors doesn't usually get as helpfull response as asking for Terranno parts.The engine holds just over a gallon of 30 SAE oil,the sump plug is 22mm and sits in the middle of the sump.

     

    The automatic gearbox.

    The gearbox fitted to automatic fairways is a Jatco E4N71B,four speed auto with a torque convertor lock.The same box is fitted to some other japanese vehicles.It uses Dexron 2 fluid,the level is read on a dipstick with the engine running and in the lever park.Dexron 2 is pretty much obsolete,the newer Dexron 3 is suitable,the gearbox can be partially drained by removing the 19mm plug in the transmission pan.

    This was the filthy transmission fluid drained from this taxi,even though the fluid on the dip stick looked quite clean.

    Dexron automatic fluid

     

    Bodywork. The wings and sills all bolt on with hex headed coarse threaded screws and a few ordinary nuts and bolts.The front outer wings bolt to a bar running across the front on which the bumper is also hung,if its loose or the brackets are rusty the wings can bounce up and down alarmingly when you hit a bump in the road and at night the beams can be seen dancing about on the road surface.I made up some struts from angle iron under each wing,running from the top inner wing mounting bolts either side of the radiator mount to the outer mounts holding the wing to the bumper.The wing shaking although not eliminated entirely was drastically reduced and the taxi feels much happier on a bumpy road.

    Behind a splash shield under each front wing is a drain tube,if this is blocked or broken water will collect in the sills and the base of the wings rotting them out rapidly from the inside.The tops of the tubes are visible at the rear of the wing channels where they meet the bulkhead.

    Tyres. London taxi tyres are 175 R 16,an odd size but easily obtainable.They are not very expensive as remoulds.The tyres are marked 'taxi' to show they are made to cope with the weight etc of a black cab and are of a constant diameter so thet the taxi meter readings are accurate. To change the rear wheels you can't simply jack under the axle,to let the rear wings clear the tyres the springs have to drop a bit,so you also need to raise the body,or place a trolley jack under the front shackle..The later LT series cabs use the same size tyres so tyre supplies should be OK for a good few years yet.

    Brakes.The front are conventional disc (drum on early models) .The disc brakes are considered much superior to the earlier drum brakes which are said to snatch badly.Anyone used to older transit rear brakes with trailing and leading shoes of different thicknesses will feel at home when working on the fairways rear drum brakes.I found the rear brakes have a tendency to stick on if the vehicle is stood for some time.The brakes are servo assisted,the servo vacuum being provided by a belt driven pump,diesel engines do not have the same manifold vacuum as petrol engines so a seperate vacuum pump is used..

    MOT test.If the taxi is being used as a private vehicle the MOT test is as for a normal car.The garage might have problems finding 'Fairway Taxi' on the DVLA computerised system,if so advise then to try FX4 instead.The MOT for a fare carrying taxi is very strict,so one that has just been taken out of service as a taxi should go through a conventional MOT with no problems.

    The electrics. Relays all over the place,and plenty of wires to fiddle with.Always disconnect the battery and alternator when arc or mig welding.Most electrical problems are caused by dirty or insecure connections.As panels are bolted on rather than welded bad earths can cause problems especially on lights and indicators. The battery is a bit of a monster ( see above).I had problems starting in the cold weather a couple of times and found the earth strap connection to the engines was poor,making up a direct connection from the engine block to the battery negative terminal helped and I have had no problems since.

    As a work horse these old taxis come in handy for all sorts of jobs.I managed to get a divan bed in for its last journey to the recycling centre.Imagine trying to do that with a modern saloon car.I've also carried eight foot lengths of 4x4 wooden poles,feeding them into the back through the sliding glass door in the partition.

    Diesel additives. An experiment. Some years ago I read on various forums reports of owners who had tried adding two stroke oil to diesel fuel for older engines on the grounds that it made up for the reduced sulphur levels in newer fuels.This was said to provide an increased level of lubrication that the older engines needed.I tried Redex 0-60 cetane booster and thought the engine ran quieter but the gains were slight enough not to warrant the extra price.I then tried a low ash two stroke oil in the ratio 50 to 1.There was a definite reduction in diesel knock,most noticeable with a cold engine.The engine didn't seem to develop any more power but was quiet enough that lower speed changes into 'overdrive' were very difficult to hear,so much so that I at one time thought the lock up in the auto box had failed..I have now used the two stroke oil as an additive in this engine for tens of thousands of miles with no ill effects. The engine is quieter and smoother with the oil performance is if anything improved.I have reports from other drivers of older diesels who report the same benefits. However,you try this at your own risk.

    I now have a Rover P5B V8 coupe and am carrying out a rolling restoration.There is a page about it here .

    Spare parts,forums and blog pages etc all connected with London type taxis.

    After a lifetime of messing about with old cars and trucks I've made many contacts in the spare parts and remanufacture trade.I can locate some spares for the older fairway taxis (2.7 D).
    Please
    click here For ball joints,swivels,track rod ends etc.

    Taxi drivers online is a mine of information from taxi drivers and owners.

    The taxi drivers forum features chat,advice and lots of stuff from taxi drivers..

    There are companies who specialise in taxi insurance for example,Online Taxi Insurance quotes from DNA Insurance.

    London taxi classics.A site based in Holland but loads of usefull links and downloads for Fairway and FX4 drivers handbooks.

    A London taxi as a daily driver blog,another taxi having a second lease of life as a run around.

    Story of the FX4 and Fairway. History of these cabs,dates and development,an interesting taxi information site.

    Elite Taxis Export and UK sales of older taxis.Spare parts servicing and repair parts.

    Worldwide taxi spares. Export of parts worldwide,site has pictures of parts available,order online.

    Yeah pimp my ride baby!.I added a set of chrome effect hub caps,you can't beat a bit of bling,I added some chrome bumpers later,but the chrome on both bumpers and hub caps is hopeless,good for a few days but in reality,a waste of money.

    Chromed hub caps on a london taxi
     
    I've now bought a Rover P5B coupe,it could hardly be more different to the taxi. in terms of power,speed comfort or refinement.Rust is no respector of either price or reputation though.I'm always on the look out for spares and parts new or secondhand for either of these vehicles.

     
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