April 1st

Support for rear of exhaust systemToday I finished the supports for the rear of the exhaust systems. However, having bolted them in I'm not too sure about how firm they are. At the moment they're fine but I'm a bit worried about my welding fatiguing. Perhaps what I'll do, at some point, is to take them off again and weld some fillets onto the back of the support. All the same, it's better like this and after a long delay I can claim the exhausts are finished. The to-do list is looking rather better these days!

Next it was on with a couple of little bits and pieces. First of all, I replaced the central rear brake light that I nadgered a while ago. I was much more careful with this one and it hasn't fallen out yet. What's more, I wired it in properly (leaving wires going all the way round the rear tub, Würthed into place) and tested it by shorting together the wires that go to the brake light switch. For some reason, the hydraulic switch is in the front brake circuit. Why isn't it at the back, near where the brakes lights are then??

Handbrake cable p-clipped to back of de Dion tubeI adjusted the handbrake cable, although I really need to put some fluid in the brakes as I think the action of the foot pedal is the thing that adjusts the special prong-thing that goes up the middle of the rear brake pistons. After that, I arranged for the handbrake cable to be attached to the de Dion tube, with the aid of a couple of P-clips. I'm not too happy about the clearance between the handbrake cable and a bit of the loom though, I might have to re-route the loom slightly.

Testing boot box for size...it fits!!Finally, I just tried the boot box for size. Miraculously, it fitted, although it'll need a bit of fettling and attaching to make it really secure.

April 2nd

Expansion tank fitted properlyAs mentioned above, I rerouted some of the wiring so that it was well away from the de Dion tube.

After that, I've decided that I want to work towards starting the engine again this weekend. The main thing in the way of this is sorting out the engine cooling, which was just lashed up in the absence of the scuttle and heater last time. After some time musing looking at things (and I really need to do something as one of the bits of pipes is still attached with tie-wraps) I decided to make up some pipes with some aluminium tubing cut and bent to the right shape. I'll make a trip to MacKay's tomorrow to purchase something.

In the meantime, I finished off by attaching the expansion tank properly with a couple of little alumimium brackets and some rivnuts. I think I probably ought to get a decent cap for this thing at some point, as the current one looks a bit past its best.

April 5th

Heater pipework in positionThe approach of using aluminium tubing didn't work too well, mainly because the consequence of using it was that there was very little flexibility in the connection between the engine and the scuttle. The engine will, of course, move around in real life quite a lot. As a consequence, I decided to make the connection mostly with ordinary hose, albeit of the silicone variety. There is, however one chunk of aluminium in there.

Final fitting of expansion tankAfter all that I could connect up the expansion tank. However, having done that I'm a bit concerned that it might be too close to the bonnet. Oh well, I'll have to check that later.

So, with a deep breath and some praying for no floods, I mixed up a 50/50 blend of antifreeze and water and filled the cooling system. There's obviously a load of air in there at the moment, not least in the heater, but it doesn't seem to be leaking. Yet...

I also made a small bracket to support the vent pipe on its journey from the radiator to the expansion tank. This is attached to a spare hole in the side of the left hand rocker cover which I tapped to M5.

Piece of blocked tubing used for stopping the EGR portSo, while I was waiting for the leaks to start, I did some other minor jobs such as bunging up the EGR port in the carburrettor with a piece of tubing filled with some Würth.

I also attached the choke cable, although the choke isn't very good at staying in position. I need to come up with some arrangement of springs and resistance to fix this.

Two sticks to track it withFinally, as I want to push the car around a bit at the weekend, I made an initial adjustment of the tracking using the time honoured method of attaching two sticks to the front wheels. It was toeing-in a huge amount before I adjusted it, so with luck it won't be so rupturing to push it tomorrow. I'm still planning on trying to start the engine again, you see...

Also, there's been a bit of movement on the admin front. I got a letter back from the SVA people asking me some subsidiary questions about whether I'd actually built it myself. They did this for the Westfield too and it's still annoying that they can't include questions for this on the SVA form itself. Still, I filled it in and sent it off.

I also got the VRO forms through. I'll have a look at what I need to do to fill them in soon.

April 6th

New water filler capRight then, today was the day for getting the engine going properly. I went out first thing and bought another expansion tank cap from a breakers' yard. Unfortunately, the expansion tank really does look too high now, as the presence of the sealing washer inside the cap (which the old one was lacking!) makes it higher. All the same, I'll leave it till I get the bonnet on, as it could easily just be a perception issue.

So, after a certain amount of displacement activity, I started the engine again. However, after a while it became obvious that the cooling still wasn't right. In fact the top hose didn't seem to be getting hot at all, even after the temperature made a rush for the top end of the scale. So, I took out the thermostat and tested it, and it seemed fine. Mind you, it looked a bit dry in there, almost as if there was a air lock in there.

So, when it was back together I decided to try and remove that air lock. I jacked the rear of the car as far up as it would go, filled it with coolant, and then separated the top hose in the middle to let the air out. Luckily, as the top hose is made of three separate pieces of silicone hose this is quite feasible.

This time, it all worked fine and after some fiddling around with the cooling fan's controls I was able to get it so it would idle for ever, with the fan cutting in and out.

That all sounds wonderful, however there are a couple of problems, one potentially serious. Firstly, the exhausts are blowing from around the header/head connections. This, I suspect, is because the flanges on the headers don't really line up properly. (Yet more evidence fro the shoddy manufacture of these systems.) I hope that I can fix this but re-assembling it with some sort of jointing compound, which I left out this time.

Rather worse is that there is rather a lot of blue smoke coming out of the right hand exhaust system. It could just be due to the re-built engine settling down, but it seems rather too much for that, and it is concentrated on one side of the engine. What's more, when the throttle is blipped there are positively clouds of it... I tried checking the engine's compression which seemed ok (about 12 bar, about 170 psi) from each cylinder. The one thing that does worry me is that the cylinder bank in question is that which suffered the strange pushrod and valve incident a while ago. Whatever, I'll try running it some more tomorrow.

The next job was to tidy up the garage. It's been slowly turning into a tip for months now and with the car out and the stands out I can have a good clean. This was done and it looks much better now.

I finished off by starting to look at bleeding the brakes and clutch. However, I didn't get very far. I seem to have real trouble starting things like this off for the first time.

BTW, it was possible to push the car about fairly easily today, after fiddling with the tracking yesterday.

April 7th

I started the day by bleeding the clutch. I always find getting fluid into completely empty systems quite tricky and took longer than it should, but eventually it was done. I will probably revisit in a while, as I always find that the small bubbles that you seem to get into a new system coagulate after a while and you can get them out!

All the same, with the clutch working, or at least it felt as if is was working; that is, the left hand pedal was now stiff I could try and get the car out of the garage under its own steam! So, I hopped in and it all just worked. I need to move the clutch pedal about a bit, as it seems to bite fairly near the top so I can afford to move it away from my feet but it worked well enough.

Out on the drive we bled the brake systems. At one point I noticed some fluid leaking from the front of the car and noticed that the unions on the pressure switch were leaking slightly. I tightened them up a bit, although it was pretty difficult to get access to it and I practically had to thread my arm into the front of the engine. In a while there was a reasonable amount of braking, although again I will revisit this.

Then, in order to try and run the engine for a while to see if the blue smoke would go away, I started the car up and set it to a fast idle and left it while I sorted something else in the garage. I had just about forgotten about it when there was a loud fizzing and I looked up to see steam and water gushing all over the place. As I rushed for the switch I realised that I hadn't heard the fan going.....

After all the excitement had died down a bit (from a young guy passing, to his girlfriend in a knowledgeable voice: "it's just about to blow up...") I tidied up. A lot of the water had run along the battery shelf and ended up in the footwells. There was a mini lake in the driver's one... I refilled after it had cooled down enough, checked the air lock again, and left it running again.

Running hot...Before that I checked the fan. Stupidly, there was only one wire connected to the fan temperature switch. I must have dislodged the other when I was fiddling around with the brake pressure switch....dooohh.

I left the engine running for about a hour, until I thought the neighbours were really going to complain. The photo shows the instruments with everything warmed up. Clockwise from top left that's about 20psi oil pressure, which is not good but apparently not far off for an idling Rover V8, 3:30 in the afternoon, no fuel to speak of, oil temperature about 90° and water temperature the same.

After an hour or so, it did seem that the blue smoke was a smidgeon better. Perhaps I'll leave it, run it when I can and see what happens to it. In the meantime, here's a little (low quality as it's from the digital camera) video that shows each of the exhausts. Mind you, it looks rather better in this that it actually is. (And the video appears to have scratches on it. Huh?)

I spent the rest of the day doing household things, and I thought I'd annoyed the neighbours enough. Still, I drove the car in and out of the garage a few times!

While talking about the instruments; I had an email from Greengauges this week. They've asked me to send the instruments back to them so that they can look at them the week after next. This shouldn't cause too much disruption so I've agreed. It'll be interesting to see what they have to say about them. Another builder friend has told me that he is having exactly the same problem with his instruments.

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