Fender Stays

To anyone with an XK120 FHC (e.g., Rob Reilly, and a few others):

I am trying to fit a new set of rear fender stays to my car, but I do not have the old ones. I obtained a set of OTS stays and found them too long. Would someone be willing to crawl under their rear fender and measure the length of the straight section of the stay on an XK120 FHC? I assume the difference is that the OTS rear clip rests nearly on the rear frame whereas the FHC has a 3/4″ shim, thereby lifting the lower edge of the rear fender with respect to the attachment point of the stay on the rear spring mounting bracket. For reference purposes, I measured the straight section of the OTS stay as 10.75″ and it looks like the FHC stay straight section should be about 10″. Thanks to someone in advance. – Carl Hanson 1951 XK120 FHC

Carl, Good guess! 9.5″ for straight part only (“measure twice, cut once”). I suspect depending on one’s eye and where one thinks the bends start it could measure up to 9.75″ but it’s 9.5″ on both sides. My car is pretty original so I’d say that’s safe. Your inquiry came at a good time. Took the rear axle out over the weekend, the car is still on jackstands and the lighting/access is excellent. Dick Rowley ’54 XK120 FHC SE

Carl, according to the parts catalogue, the 120 FHC rear fender (wing) stays are the same as DHC, but OTS is different part numbers. I see Dick Rowley has already provided an answer, but my measurements differ from his. Here’s what I measured last night.

5/16 inch diameter steel rod Overall length before bending probably about 13.5 to 13.75 inches. Upper end 1.5 inches to the first bend, measuring at the inner radius 10.75 inches between bends, inner radius to inner radius. Lower end 1 inch from second bend inner radius. Upper end has 7/8 inch of fine thread and is double nutted to the frame. Lower end has 1/2 inch of fine thread and a flat washer welded where the tread ends, so only one nut is used

I only looked at the left side, but now that I see I have a discrepancy with Dick I will measure the right side tonight. – Rob Reilly

After I posted my measurements I re-read Carl’s original post. 10.75″ between bends! So it looks like I have OTS stays on my FHC. I wonder how that happened; they sure look like they’ve been on there since George VI was on the throne. Yet another factory anomaly? I think I’d better take a more careful look. Any OTS owners want to measure yours and see if we can figure this thing out? – Rob Reilly

Well Rob and Carl, I had promised myself not to do anything that might keep a new version of washer bottle madness or mystery part mania going, but the finer points of fender stays has that irresistable combination of science and loopiness that goes along with these cars (and [some] of us who play with them?). So just to roll this along the crazy trail, one of the things I noticed with my FHC SE compared to my recollection of a ex-spats equipped OTS I used to have was the way the aft (of the wheel) portion of the rear fenders hang. Normally the fender tops seem to curve out from the body (looking down), then “drop” vertically to the bottom of the fender, with little or no bowing back in at the bottom edge (other than the bottom lip, which is not what I’m referring to). In other words, a too-long stay would bow the fender out, a too short stay would bow it back in toward the frame, and a just right stay has the fender profile pretty vertical at the point the stay attaches. My FHC seems to bow back in just a tad on both sides. You REALLY have to look close to see it (like when you’re under the car taking a break from axle removal) and maybe it would go away with some adjustment of the threaded part of the rod (haven’t looked at that). But if the factory did it, it must be right (right?). Now- my thinking is that with a special equipment FHC the adjustment would never have been that critical at the factory because they wouldn’t have had to worry about how the spats would fit (the spats being almost flat and probably unforgiving of any deviation in the fender profile). That has no effect on the measurement of the straight portion of the stay itself, but the fact that these stays were adjustable does point to Jaguar’s recognition that by the time the body was plunked on and the fenders attached, the cars would all vary enough to require that the stays be significantly adjustable. So if they’re all adjustable anyway, and the cars all varied too, maybe they didn’t get too precise about the stays themselves? Given what Rob has said about his measurements being different, I wonder if the rods might have even been different between spats and SE cars. I don’t recall if his is spats equipped but wouldn’t that be interesting if it is. Or could it possibly have just been a matter of the fender stay manufacturing process not being all that precise…? Sounds like a job you give to the newest apprentice… cut rod, thread rod, bend rod, zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz…… I am forwarding this to a friend who has a very original FHC to see if he has any desire to add to the fun. – Dick Rowley

If you all look closely into your computer screens you can see my red face. My left hand fender (wing/guard) stay is 10-3/4″ between bends, but the right hand is 9-3/4″, so it looks like I have one of each. Any number of explanations could be offered for this, but all I can tell you is they have both been on there a long time and there is no evidence of any accident damage such as would require replacement of the left stay. Dick, I agree with all your comments on apprentice workers, adjustments, spats and fender lines, and since mine has spats I will take some careful measurements of the fenders in relation to the frame and see what can be learned. I do know the fenders had been removed by a PO during one of the car’s numerous repaintings.

Incidentally the right hand stay has 1-1/8 inches of thread at the upper end. – Rob Reilly