Wednesday 23 September 2015

Daylight Running Lights Fitted

One of the first pieces of advice I was given was always to assume I was invisible to other road users.   But with more and more cars being fitted with daytime running lights I decided it was time to join in. 

  So bought some LED strips from China and after looking at various mounting options, decided to put them on the top wishbone.
 Here's a close up of the fitting.
And to keep it legal I wired them up using a 'Normally On' relay so that they turn on with the ignition switch but go out if I turn off the sidelights or headlights.

Nice bling !

Starter Cooler Improved

As the Ram-Air cooler seemed to be helping with hot starts, I extended the tube into the nose to bring in even colder air.

Sunday 20 September 2015

Newark Auto Jumble

A nice day at the Newark Auto Jumble.  It was a very good day.   Weather perfect, I had a nice 40-mile run each way through the country lanes of Lincolnshire.   And the turnout was very impressive.   I didn't count but I reckon there was easily 300 classic cars (although some of them stretched the definition a bit), more than I have seen at some dedicated classic car shows.   And a very impressive collection of stands as well.   It took me almost 2 hours to walk around.  Lots of stuff you didn't realise you needed :)

Here are some piccies:

Cooling System Again

After she boiled over last week I decided to throw the book at her this weekend.

First I took the thermostat out and checked it in boiling water.   Unfortunately I don't really know how much it should open, but I wasn't impressed, it didn't look to me as though it moved.  So decided to leave it out for now, which is how the previous owner had her for years.  Very carefully filled her up with all possible holes open, and massaged all the pipes until I was as certain as I could be there were no air locks.   Checked in a tin of K-Seal (same as RadWeld) to try and block any holes, and then put the 20psi cap back on.

Did a very scenic long-winded run yesterday (25 miles) and a return trip to the Newark Auto Jumble today (75 miles).   At no point did the temperature gauge leave the white box at the bottom of Normal, even when I was held up in  a local village where road works have meant a 4-way set of traffic lights (which I arrived at at the wrong time in both directions)  Played it very safe and switched the fan on the moment I stopped, so it maybe wasn't a proper test.  But not interested in experimenting yet.   I guess you could argue I shouldn't be running her that cool, but I was still kept cosily warm by the air coming up through the footwell, and the bonnet was nice and hot when I stopped so I am happy with that.   I think we also have to remember that in this case the temperature of the engine core may not be the same as the temperate sensor at the thermostat, as that is one of the first points that is exposed to air when the coolant level drops and so will give incorrect values.

So quietly confident (again ), but only time will tell.   I now have to get out of the habit of looking at the temperature gauge every 5 seconds.

Wednesday 16 September 2015

Engine Cover Fitted

Ever since I have had the car it has niggled me that it was missing a cover over the spark plugs.  It's a minor thing but as I often take off the bonnet at car shows I thought it was time to smarten it up a bit.

Unusually I could find nothing on E-Bay but I eventually found a Land Rover dealer who could sell me one for £7.

Job done, much smarter now.

First Breakdown

The weekend meet was good fun but the journey there and back was another story !!   On the journey there everything was going fine until I got to Melton and hit traffic and road works then she started to overheat.  I actually had to stop 10 miles short of the camp site to put some water in.   Luckily I also saw a big black cloud approaching so had the time to put the top up.  And then drove through a massive rainstorm, luckily short lived.    So a bit depressed that the cooling problem was obviously still there.

So for the journey back this afternoon I filled her up with water and left for a 55 mile journey back.   Got safely back home and under my own steam (literally) After I left I treated her very carefully but as I was driving along the A50 the temperature started to climb and it wasn't looking good.   Crossed the M1 and started down the A6 ready to turn left to Rempstone and Melton.  With 100 yds to go, big bang and engine stopped, so I pulled over in a huge cloud of steam.  Jumped out and saw a huge pool of liquid under the car.   Was actually quite relieved it was water and not oil !

Took the bonnet off and was just getting ready to phone the breakdown service when I happened to notice a stainless steel pipe from the bottom hose had come adrift from the rubber hose to the Thermostat.


Very difficult to access, especially with the engine hot, but after a bit of fiddling and loosening off the jubilee clip a LOT I managed to get the pipes reconnected and the clip tightened.   Got a fairly respectable set of blisters on my hand from the exhaust manifold.   Put 2 litres in from the bottle I have got used to carrying, got her started (a bit reluctant but she had received a dousing) and carefully carried on.  The temperature gauge quickly rose to the 12:00 position slap bang in the middle of normal and then, to my astonishment,  stayed there, unwavering, for the whole of the 35 mile run back regardless of what I was doing, stopped at traffic lights, doing 60mph...etc... 

So here is Hypothesis Number 11.  When I saw the disconnected pipes, the jubilee clip on the rubber one was at an unusual angle and as I said, was much tighter than it should have been, so I am now wondering if it wasn't actually fully on the SS pipe, positioned correctly on the top but just missing the pipe underneath, thereby compressing the rubber hose. 

This would probably be watertight normally, but under pressure the water would come out, creating air locks and hence the vicious cycle.  But putting on the 20psi cap meant that she could get up a lot more pressure, enough to completely blow off the rubber tube. 

And when the pipe was full on and the jubilee clip tighten dead square on the pipe then she behaves immaculately for the rest of the journey, bang on normal, not moving.  Something I have never seen in 2 years.    It couldn't be that simple could it ?   I have said it was solved too often in the past to count my chickens, but it does look promising.   Next step is to make sure the connection is good, fill up and get rid of any air locks (have to take the grill off to 'massage' the lower tube) and see what happens.  I will also revert back to the 13psi cap as if that was the problem I don't want to over pressurise the system unnecessarily.

End-of-Season Bash

Quite a few owners take their cars off the road over the winter (although not me), so each year we all meet up for a get together.  This year was a pub in the Peak District with a big field at the back.

In the event nearly 50 people turned up. including wives, partners and children.  One of the members is an archery instructor so we could all have a go at that.
Some came for the day, some were in caravans, some in motor homes and some, like me, camp overnight.

Here is my 'pitch'
In the afternoon we had a 16-car 25-mile run out for charity, in honour of a previous Chairman who died suddenly at a young age.  I was about number 10 in the queue.

And here we are all parked at the halfway point at Carsington Water, for a cup of tea.

In the evening we had a band playing in the pub and lots of drinking.  This is me on the Sunday morning having cooked myself a 'full English' and after a couple of cups of coffee and reading the Sunday Times on the iPad.  Although I may have been a quick nap :-)

So a great weekend, although the journey back was a bit of a trauma.  That is the next post.

Friday 11 September 2015

Test Drive

The run to Chesterfield was 1.5 hr each way, mainly on the A1 but with some country roads at each end.  So it gave me a good chance to do a proper test of all the recent changes I had made.  And she passed with flying colours.

Major change was the cooling system.  The indicator stayed pegged at the bottom of the Normal range for the whole journey.  And more importantly she didn't lose any water over the whole journey.

The new bushes on the back shockers worked well.  No more sign of the persistent squeak that had always been there.  And the handling seemed much more precise and at 70mph she was absolutely rock solid.  I'm not sure if that was the bushes or the raising of the rear ride height but it is definitely better.

The engine behaved impeccably, not hesitation, no popping, and even at 70mph, putting my foot down gave a very satisfactory push in the back.   And the icing on the cake was she did 35 mpg, as against the previous 31 mpg.   So the tea towel is working.

Very pleased all round.

Early Christmas Present

I was very grateful when one of the members of the RHOCaR club gave me a Superspec exhaust to get me through the MOT (see here).   While we were talking later he said he had a spare ECU, as he had replaced his with a more up-to-date one.   So as yesterday was such a glorious day I arranged to take the car up to his workshop in Chesterfield to show him the car and pick up the ECU.

As I left he gave me the ECU and a box containng all this:

The ECU, 2 new rear shock absorbers (with bushes), a spare instrument cluster, the ECU loom with all fuses and plugs and a complete set of rear lights (normal, stop, reverse, indicater and number plate illuminater).

Very grateful to him and I am now well on the way to having a complete set of spare parts for the car.

Wednesday 9 September 2015

Raising Ride Height

While I had the shocks disassembled to replace the bushes and I had access to the whole unit I decided to try raising the ride height a bit to stop the exhaust grounding.  So I wound them up about 1/2"  (If you remember I could not do that in situ as the whole unit was rotating when I turned the adjuster, now I could hold that in a clamp while turning the adjuster). 

Took her for a short run and the ride height doesn't seem to have made much difference.  There is a spot on the exit from the village that I always avoid as I ground there regardless, so I tried again.   She still grounded, although it was more of a 'kiss' than a violent thump.   Maybe I could try adding another 1/2" to the coils.   We'll see how it goes.

Rear Suspension Bushes

At the MOT there had been an advisory on the nearside bottom suspension bush.  Following my mechanic's advice that changing the rear suspension bushes was very straightforward I decided to give it a try.

Obviously had no idea what the bushes were from (a search for Sierra rear suspension bushes produced nothing) but at first glance a set of Land Rover suspension bushes looked like they might be OK.  

So £2.99 (free postage, next day delivery) later I got these.

So jacked up the car with wheels off and with the bottom bolt of the shock absorber removed, and as predicted the shocks came clear and I got access to the whole bottom end.

The first surprise was the nearside, which had been the MOT advisory.  The bottom bush was a bit ropey, as expected, but the top bush (the one you can't see until the suspension is dropped) was completely missing.    Either it had disintegrated over time or maybe it was never fitted ? 

  Anyway, the nice surprise was that the Land Rover bush was almost right.   This is what the proper one looks like:

So although not an exact match it was certainly miles better than the one that was in.   So I rebuilt it using the new ones.   And while I was on a roll I decided to check the offside as well.  Good thing I did as although the bottom bush was OK (the one in the picture), the top one was present but badly split.   So I decided I might as well go the whole hog and replace both of those.   I can now keep the good one as a template when I go to the next car show, to buy a proper set, although I am actually quite confident the Land Rover ones will be fine.

Good job done

Monday 7 September 2015

Front End Day

Had a 'front end' day today. I had a number of outstanding jobs:

1.   Check steering U/J joint to make sure bolts were still tight after replacement (mechanics advice)
2.   Change serpentine belt  (mechanics advice)
3.   Refit sump guard
4.   General check of suspension and steering, making sure everything tight.

So put the front wheels up on ramps so I was safe underneath and had a good session.    All the bolts for steering and suspension still good so that gives peace of mind  (Why do I keep checking them when I never ever look at the Volvo ?).

Successfully changed the belt.  Had to Google how to do it as the mechanic had said you loosen off the tensioner and I could not see how to do it.   Turns out he was wrong and it is an automatic tensioner.   So you just put a spanner on it and swing it to one side and the belt falls off.   

Having been warned,  I didn't make the classic mistake of not drawing a diagram of the routing first, and the new belt (I have carried a spare in the boot for 2 years) went back on very easily.  

Looking at the old one it looks fine to me although there is a very slight cut (3mm) on one side.  Certainly good enough to keep as an emergency spare.    And it certainly hasn't done any harm changing it.

And I decided to put back the sump guard that the mechanic had taken off.    I accepted his point that the 2 'skid bars' he had welded on would protect the sump on sleeping policeman (or ferry loading ramps) but I was still slightly worried about going over a sharp stone that would puncture the centre.   

So again using the belt and braces principle I decided an extra layer of protection would do no harm.    Had a slight problem as he had sheared one of the bolts and left the remaining part in, but managed to drill it out without damaging the thread.

So it is back on, ready for action.

Cooling System (7)

At the MOT the mechanic had noted a small weep at the thermostat housing, and I was finding more and more water on the floor of the garage.   So it was time to change the gasket.   I had bought a new thermostat a few months ago and it come with it's own 'generic' gaskets made of paper.  But when I checked on E-Bay I found it should be fitted with a rubber gasket.

There were actually 5 for sale so I bought 2 so I have a spare (I did wonder about buying all 5 and becoming the sole supplier)

So whipped off the thermostat housing, saw the paper gasket has actually split, popped in the new rubber one and put it all back together.

I filled up the system and went off for lunch.  When I came back there was water all over the floor.   I hunted high and low for the leak but had no success, but I could see the thermostat housing was still weeping a bit.  So this time I took it all apart, cleaned everything, removed all trace of the old gasket and made sure the 2 mating surfaces were perfectly clean.   Put it back together and there is no apparent leak and after a long drive the system was still full and after a few hours there was no water on the garage floor.

I also took the advice of a fellow Superspec owner and replaced the 13psi radiator cap with a 20psi cap to stop the system overflowing.


And while I was checking it all I took all 4 spark plugs out to see if one of them was different.   In fact they were all a nice chocolate colour, meaning the mixture is correct and that a gasket problem is actually unlikely.