After several updates relating to cosmetic fripperies, today I bring you news of actual proper spannering.
The main outstanding mechanical job hanging over the ownership experience was the cambelt, it was last changed 65,000 miles ago in the year of our lord 2003. The recommended interval for these is 60k (not a problem) or 5 years (yeah, ummm about that...). The saving grace is that these 7A-FE engines are non-interference but it did concern me that its was dramatically overdue and if it were to snap, it would definitely be at the least opportune moment.
I have never changed a cambelt, in fact, I have never even paid someone to change a cambelt for me. I have either played roulette until the car has been sold, or specifically sought out a car with a cam chain engine. So what better time to learn than a sweltering thursday and friday in July? Exactly. I was accompanied in this task by my far more mechancially accomplished brother tobyd of this parish, he of the motorbike fettling thread.
I'd bought a gates cambelt kit, and decided that since I was going to be in there anyway, got a NOS water pump and three auxilliary belts for the water pump, PAS pump and A/C compressor & Alternator circuits respectively. Total cost was a monumental £40.
Here is where we begin. 14:00 on thursday, air temp ~28c. Hydration level - adequate. engine status - complete
First step was to jack the car up, take off the drivers side wheel and undo the undertray to gain access to the gubbinz. I managed this with the only casualty being one undertray screw which sheared its head off. It will be missed.
We put in the jack, an axle stand and slid the wheel under the sill as additional backup stability.
Next up, start to strip it all down. The cambelt lives in a house composed from 3 plastic sections, held on at the top by the rocker cover. So the next step is to remove the rocker cover. 4 threaded nuts and it was loose. easy peasy.
In this shot, I've taken off the coil packs, taken the spark plugs out, and removed the top section of cambelt house from the left hand side of the engine. its remarkably clean in there.
This is the old cambelt fitted, its not cracked or particularly haggard looking, but it is a genuine Toyota one, so is certainly the 2003 belt and therefore very elderly.
Here we are fishing the spark plugs out the holes
With the rocker cover off, the next step is to remove the left-hand engine mount. first of all, we put a length of wood under the sump and carefully jacked it up to take the weight off the mount. Then remove the three studs that hold the engine mount to the front wing.
We were then confounded - the mount is 2 pieces, the one through the top was easy to under, but there are 2 nuts (fnarr) underneath the mount, I had a 3/8" extension bar which was long enough to reach from inside the wheelarch, but my 3/8" 14mm socket was knackered. I had a 1/2" 14mm socket which was really good, but the 1/2" extension bar was too short to reach. Urgh. FFS.
So we decided to set off to Halfords in search of one fo the following:
- 1/2" extension bar
- 3/8" 14mm hex socket
- 3/8" female to 1/2" male adapter
As we set off in the car, I thought that maybe the local hardware shop might have one of these. Its a funny place, and probably expensive but since it was on the way it was worth a go. It also saved an hours drive there and back, and time was of the essence. The local hardware shop came up trumps - they had a 1/2" extra-long extension bar, though it was £11. I'll probably use it again. It probably wouldn't be much cheaper at Halfords and saved us 40 minutes driving.
With this equipped, the underneath nuts (quiet at the back!) were easy to remove, and we were in progress once more
Next up, we removed the old aux belts. Two of them were in a bit of a state, the alternator belt was more recent, but changed out for peace of mind. Here is is with the engine mount removed, and the belts off
the next few steps you'll have to imagine, it was flipping hot, we were both mainlining squash like mad and sweating it out just as quick and it was really fiddly.
Oh, and I went and collected Castros_bro from the station to collect the 206cc too!
Then, we took off the alternator and AC compressor, the compressor bracket and took off the water pump pulley. this is a stupidly fiddly job with bugger all access but we managed it in the end with some ring spanners and a plumbers wrench. This gave us all the access we needed. Well, it gave us all the access we could have, it was still somewhat 'snug' shall we say between the belts and inner wing.
Next up we took off all the cambelt housing, undid the crank pulley - this was a complete breeze with the impact gun - and slackened off the cambelt tensioner. We'd aligned the timing marks carefully before doing this, but there is no locking mechanisms. You just have to make sure it all stays aligned and fine tune when doing it all back up.
With the belt de-tensioned, we took off the tensioner hook, and then eased it out, along with the cambelt itself. Hooray! 50% there. Well, sort of.
It had started to cool down a bit by this point, we'd drunk our own bodyweight in weak squash and hadn't been for a wee since mid-morning so ploughed on.
this is where the back-and-forth started. We refitted the new cambelt and tensioner. Getting the spring on was a horrible job, there is no access and its a really stiff spring. The process was revolutionised when I found an old bent bit of coathanger with a tight u-shaped section on one end. This was absolutely perfect to hook over the spring end, pull it towards the front of the car and hook it onto the extrusion that it should live on to provide the tension on the belt.
with this back on, we refitted the bottom pulley and were confounded once again. in the course of jiggling the belt on and applying tension, the timing mark had moved from the zero mark on the bottom pulley to 10 degrees. bother. I bit of lateral thinking lead us to get a socket and bar on the bottom pulley, tuning it carefully until it aligned with the zero. This knocked the cam timing out at the top end, but we were able to unhook the tensioner spring, ease the belt off the cam sprocket, turn the cam sprocket back a tooth to make it align with the top timing mark, slide the belt back onto the cam sprocket with the timing marks top and bottom carefully checked and the re-tension the belt.
what a kerfuffle! It worked though, and the belt was on, tensioned and the timing correct. Hooray! Next up, the water pump.
As has been mentioned many times before, I am a silly boy. The cambelt does not run the water pump, like in a lot of cars, however this doesn't mean you can actually replace the water pump with the cam belt in situ. You can unbolt it, but there isn't enough room to get it out with the cambelt in place. Fiddlesticks.
At this point we gave up for the night, we were both tired, hot sweaty, grubby and in need of beer.
This morning, refreshed by several pints in the pub the night before and too-hot nights sleep we got stuck in properly. Mercifully it was cooler this morning and cloudy.
First of all we drained the coolant down. Toyota were really good and the rad has a tap in it that you can use to drain it all in a nice tidy way, rather the pulling the bottom hose and getting coolant everywhere.
The water pump was wiggled expertly free without pulling the cambelt off for a third time, but there was no way we could get the new one in without ripping the gasket to pieces. Frustratingly, this meant the cambelt and tensioner did indeed need to came off AGAIN. Urgh. Oh well, at least we know what we're doing now. Bottom pulley off, tensioner detensioned with the hookity-hook, belt slid off the sprockets and a clear run to the housing. Here we are with the belt almost off for the third time
The water pump housing is visible in the bottom left, nice and shiny and cleaned up with a rag.
In a fit of cleverness (more on this later) I bolted the pulley to the new water pump before fitting, then with some VERY careful manouvring the new water pump was moved into place, and the gasket slid into the gap. We then carefully put the water pump bolts in, making sure the gasket was kept flat throughout. Here it is in roughly the right place, before the gasket was inserted
Next, we tightened it all up, refitted the cambelt for the FOURTH time, re-tensioned it, made sure the timing marks were still correct (they were, this time) and started putting the aux belts on. First up, the littlest belt from the water pump pulley to the PAS pump. It was a bit tight, but we managed to line it up and wind it on by turning the water pump pulley by hand. Easy.
Then, we bolted on the A/C compressor bracket, and the AC Compressor. This weighs a flipping tonne and doesn't actually work, so is basically hassle and dead weight but the belt is for the A/C equipped car so lets put it back on, eh? hahaha no. not even nearly. This is how it looked
The belt wasn't going onto the respective pulleys and being wound on like the first one. No chance. There is a pulley that goes between the crank pulley and compressor pulley which should tension it, but this was totally seized. helpfully we noticed this having fitted all these parts. bumhats. Off with the compressor and bracket again. Urgh! We deployed the impact gun to undo the tensioner bolt, took the tensioner off and used a drill to clean up and grease the slider bit. Adjustment was restored, so we refitted the bracket again, and then the compressor. This time, the belt went on really easily, and we then carefully wound out the adjuster to tension the belt properly.
Next, refitting the alternator. We sanded down the pivoting bit because it was very stiff coming off, gave it a slip of grease and losely fitted it. There is an adjuster that goes underneath, but you have to fit it totally blind. My fingers had lost several layers of skin by this point and were somewhat tender so this bit hurt! We got it on though, looped the alternator belt onto the crank pulley and alternator then wound out the adjuster to tension the belt. Then did up the pivot bolt tight.
Serious progress, with the end in sight!
You know what i was saying about the water pump pulley earlier? Yeah, it was a silly idea to do it up, in order to get the middle part of the housing on top of the cambelt, you need it off (though still held captive because there isn't enough room to get it out between the end of the water pump spindle and the inner wing). So off it came again, getting it undone was easy, 4 weenie bolts hold it on. We fitted the middle bit of cambelt housing and then had to wiggle in the pulley bolts back in, what a sod of a job! Toby who is over 76% less fat handed than I am managed to get them to bite, and I wound them on with a ring spanner.
Then we refitted the engine mount, tightened it up from above and below and withdrew the jack under the sump. The engine didn't fall out the bottom.
Next up, the final stages - we fitted the top bit of plastic housing and tightened it up, the refitted the rocker cover. I got the hylomar out to help it seal but it had all solidified completely so that was a non-starter. we cleaned up the rubber gasket and hoped for the best. it isn't the worst thing in the world if it weeps, it'll be easily visible and can be replaced easily enough if it does weep.
We refitted the wiring to the alternator over the top of the rocker cover, refitted the spark plugs and coil packs, plugged the alternator multiplug back in and it looked like this
I used the impact gun to do up the crank pulley bolt.
Then we refilled the rad with deionised water and had a good look around for leftover parts. There were none, so we thought this must be a good thing. Down off the jack it came, with the wheel refitted and undertray re-attached and then for the moment of truth. Had we timed it right? We'd wound it over several times on the crank pulley and there had been no jamming, stiff spots (I said quiet at the back!) or other untoward things so here we go......
Turned the key and BROOM! it burst into life and settled into a nice steady idle.
BOOM Mo_Fo's - it worked! We didn't screw it all up and break the engine. No leaks, no leftovers, just a functioning engine.
We left it to run up to temperature to circulate the water and flush out the old coolant, then left it to cool down again. re-drained it and topped back up with ECP's 5-year pink coolant mixed 60:40 with de-ionised water on the basis there'd be a bit of mostly water left in the cylinder head so should work out about 50:50 once that mixes up.
Then we took it out for a ride. We put about 40 miles on it, mixed driving up the A32, across the A272 and back home on the A3 and M27. temperature astayed constant, nothing fell off or blew up. Great Success! here it is after cooling down, with new pump and belts visible
I'm really pleased, this is the first time either of us have undertaken a cambelt change and other than some n00b mistakes with doing things in the right order and clearance for certain parts it all went surprisingly well. I definitely couldn't have done it without Toby's help, but like to think I did bring at least something to the party!
I hope you enjoy reading this stuff, I certainly enjoyed doing it and its now good for another 60k, or based on the last one - 15 years!