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Zelandeth last won the day on February 25 2021

Zelandeth had the most liked content!


About Zelandeth

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    Milton Keynes
  • Interests
    Vintage technology restoration (if it's got valves, I'm interested), retro computing (Amiga and Acorn in particular), photography (film based generally), the Furry Fandom, vintage commercials...and whatever else I've inevitably forgotten.


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  1. This surging behaviour seriously has me intrigued. Managed to catch it doing it again today and got a better video properly catching it. Which clearly shows how it's essentially a regular "blip" that happens irrespective of the engine speed - and that during this behaviour she chucks out a shedload of smoke. You can always *smell* that something is off when it's doing this, the smell from the exhaust lingers for ages. If you're in a car following it, it makes your eyes water apparently. Physically disabling the EGR valve by removing and plugging the vacuum line to the actuator has no effect. I know the valve is moving as you can clearly hear it snap open or closed - and it sealed well enough that carb cleaner wasn't even seeping through the orifice while I was cleaning it yesterday. So I think the valve itself is innocent. However if I unplug the electrical connection to the solenoid valve which controls said valve, the problem completely goes away. Idle immediately smooths out perfectly (it sounds to me like the injection timing or duration also changes as the engine note itself does change too), you hear the throttle valve in the intake snap fully open, and the throttle response becomes perfectly smooth through the whole rev range - and we see absolutely zero smoke aside from the expected tiny bit of black if you absolutely boot it, and that's not enough to be visible in the headlights of a following car. Also notable that any noticeable smell completely vanishes too... Now I'm sure unplugging that would trigger an engine management light if I had one and I'm sure will have logged a fault code, and disabling an emission control device like this is illegal, so it's not a permanent fix...however it provides me with useful data to add to my diagnostic process and *definitely* puts the van in a less polluting state while I get to the bottom of the root cause. You've see the cloud if you've watched the video above! I need to make my evening reading today working out exactly what the sequence of operation is for the various bits of the emission control system on this engine and how the various parts interact with each other. I get the impression that understanding how that lot works will shed some light on what might be happening. Decided that the Caddy could have a day off as errand running workhorse. Which went absolutely fine until I heard a suspicious "ding" at one point and saw something disappearing into oblivion behind me. Ah. That's sub optimal. The air filter element was still present, wedged between the chassis and suspension arm thankfully (as they're surprisingly expensive), however the cover plate and wing nut are long gone. Even if I could spot it, as with so much of MK there's nowhere safe to pull over to retrieve it safely as it's on a 70mph dual carriageway with no pedestrian provision even vaguely nearby. So I'll need to find a replacement. Thankfully it's a bit of standard Steyr-Puch engine rather than a bespoke bit of Invacar so shouldn't be difficult to track one down, even if it may mean getting a whole new air cleaner assembly. Guess we need to add "check air filter element retaining wing nut is tight" to the weekly checklist!
  2. Ah, echoes of the Jag. £90-110 to fill at a month or so back's prices. 140-180 miles before being back at the fuel station. Think 6mpg over a tank was my worst!
  3. Didn't have a huge amount of energy available today as I'm still feeling like death, nevertheless I was determined to get a few things done. First up was getting the interior of the S123 back into a presentable state. Calling it clean would be overselling it, but it's a hell of a lot better and I'm not embarrassed by it any more. Sadly attempts to find a working jetwash to do something about the outside were fruitless. It's no longer 87% dog hair by volume at least. Moving onto the Caddy it was time to have a look at the EGR valve to get an idea of how funked up the system was. My the standards of most modern cars it's thankfully pretty easy to get to. Wasn't actually nearly as bad as I expected to be honest. Yes it's pretty disgusting, but I'm not unused to seeing these choked solid. Probably about 0.5mm worth of caked on gunk the whole way round. The other side of the valve is more disgusting as it's sticky, tarry crap as the PCV system feeds into the EGR circuit right next to the valve. I did dig an appreciable amount of gunge out of the valve body, but it definitely wasn't totally choked nor seemed to be sticky. Reassembled everything...and absolutely no difference. Very slightly surging engine speed still there (it does exactly the same at any engine speed I found, regularly once a second), along with excessive smoke on light throttle. Definitely have vacuum at the EGR valve, and you can hear it physically snap shut if you pull the vacuum line off. It however doesn't have any noticeable effect on the running of the engine either way. Something I did notice is that when this behaviour is present, the rev counter also behaves slightly erratically, randomly twitching upwards from the actual engine speed - and it seems to do it more when on the throttle than off. Then out of nowhere, the engine completely smooths out. The note deepens (because the flap on the intake, which I assume works in partnership with the EGR valve is now fully open), and the diesel clatter becomes a little sharper, so something has obviously changed - I'm guessing with the injection timing. Checking the EGR at that point shows there's no vacuum present, so the ECU isn't calling for the EGR system to be in operation. It's also noteworthy that after this point when things decide to behave that the rev counter twitching also stops. So I don't think the EGR valve is the cause of this issue...bit it's definitely *involved* in it. Think the next step really will be to find someone locally with VCDS and get a look at some real-time data. Everything being fly-by-wire here makes guessing pretty pointless... imagine on a newer car we'd have a check engine light illuminated - but this car doesn't have one! The rev counter misbehaving being clearly tied into it is making me think camshaft/crankshaft position sensors? Or however else the ECU gets the engine speed/position data...makes sense though if there's a disparity between the requested and reported engine speed, it would throw the fuelling all to hell. Think it's likely been like this for a while so I'm not worried about it really, but I'll be damned if I'm not going to try to get to the bottom of it. Especially as the van drives so much nicer when this fault is staying out of the way. We got any SDi experts on here? Oh...and I've ordered a replacement engine cover. Looks quick and easy to fit/remove unlike many, so I'm not adverse to its being there. Something which may well be getting changed in the not too distant future - which is a shame as they're only a year old - is the tyres. I had to brake moderately hard to avoid a suicidal pigeon this afternoon and discovered that these tyres really aren't great on a cold, damp road. Also the front ones have way more grip than the rears...great, aside from when all four wheels lock up, then the front regains grip well before the rear - which by then has started to try to overtake the front. It was a moderately firm braking manoeuvre, but I didn't expect quite *that* degree of upset. Even the big van would have been okay. Methinks some Uniroyal rubber may be in the future. I will get the tracking checked in the meantime though - not least because the steering wheel is slightly off straight and means I can't see about 2/3rds of the warning lights on the dash when driving straight ahead. Bit of a daft design there from VW. Likewise the switchgear most of which is hidden behind the steering wheel.
  4. Not actually had many estates. According to the DVLA this was a 2-door estate... Though I think anyone else would just say 3-door hatch. First *real* estate was also a Lada though. Currently on the drive we have this Merc S123, which is a proper estate with a load area big enough to need its own postcode. Which is about to move on to pastures new. Not sure if this counts...the recently acquired fleet workhorse...functionally it *works* like an estate, though it's really a van...or a car with a box plonked on the back anyway.
  5. Don't really have an issue with changing that, I did query it with my insurer when I was setting things up as the idea was in my head since before I'd even collected the van and they didn't have any issue with it. Given they're a van specialist they're used to companies switching things like that, applying wraps etc. The only thing they said they would want more detail on would be if we were getting involved in fancy, very expensive finishes like flip paint, holographic wraps or matt paintwork.
  6. Absolutely bugger all to show for today as the vaccine booster is kicking my ass. Which sucks as there are a LOT of things I need to get done this weekend both car related and otherwise...and I've already lost a day already. Quite a few folks have suggested that if I were looking at doing a respray on the Caddy to stick with the original colour. It is a nice clean looking colour, but let's face it... I'm really not a "resale silver" sort of person. There is far too much grey in the world and I'm a fan of colour. A few of you may already have figured out where I'm going with this given there's quite a bit of 6N Polo in the Caddy. I reckon that one of the best - and most unexpected from a generally very restrained company like VW - ideas that came out of Wolfsburg in the mid 1990s was the Polo Harlequin. A few thousand Polos and a handful of Golfs got the treatment, but it never (officially) saw use on any other models. Not one to be deterred, I'd like to make a Caddy Harlequin. This does require a little bit of thought though...as all the Polos and Golfs this was done to at the factory were 5-door cars...and my van doesn't have a cargo door on either side. I reckon having the base colour used on the whole rear quarter would be too much of one colour. So the rear door colour would be used for the rear quarter in my case. This then presents a new problem...on the Polo the rear doors and rear bumper were the same colour. Not a problem there as there's a strip of metal running from the rear of the sill, up around the wheel arch then up to the roof line providing a contrasting colour to separate them. That strip essentially doesn't exist here so I'd end up with the rear bumper blending into the rear quarter. My proposed solution is to swap the colour of the rear bumper. Switching the green out for blue. Pondered yellow too, but that would then match the front...and matching is precisely what this is NOT about. It is supposed to be a glorious mess. I threw this together as a really, really quick proof of concept to get my thoughts down on paper so to speak. Obviously as this is just a quick and dirty photo edit of a silver van, the actual colours would be WAY more vibrant in reality. Hard to see there, but the rear doors will be yellow. Wheels would obviously be tidied up at the same time. For those who aren't familiar with the Harlequin, here's a factory example - so these are what the colours would actually be, courtesy of Wikipedia. Precisely how we'd do this will remain to be seen...hoping to find a bonnet the right colour as this one has a couple of dents in, doors may be easier to find than paint. The sills, roof and sides though it may make more sense to have wrapped than to respray it... though I'll probably look for input from someone who actually does this stuff professionally before anything actually happens. I'm going to try to do as good a job of this as I reasonably can. Welcome thoughts, alternative colour placements etc. Sadly getting hold of the correct seat material and blue steering wheel/gear lever of the Harlequin models are not likely to happen. Only other achievement for the day was gambling on a £12 used heater control panel on eBay - it LOOKS like the AC/recirc button assembly just screws on the bottom, so I'm hoping I can swap that bit over...if not I'm not going to lose sleep over £12.
  7. My body's reaction to vaccines can get in the sea. Know it's several orders of magnitude less horrible than the alternative, and lacks the whole credible potential for being lethal...but that doesn't change the fact that I feel like absolute death just now. Virtually every bone and muscle in my body hurts, to the extent that transitioning from laying down to sitting up takes 30 seconds or so to recover from. Everything just hurts. Hit me quicker than the last two, so crossing my fingers that means I get over it quicker as there's a LOT of stuff I really needed to do this weekend and I've already lost an entire day.
  8. Postie this morning. Rang doorbell. I was actually downstairs at the time so got there pretty quickly. Made direct eye contact through the window, then stuck a "sorry we missed you" slip through the letterbox. Then proceeded to completely ignore me shouting (politely!) after him as he walked the (15 metres or so) back down the garden path to his van and buggered off. Thing is...he never even took the parcels out of the damned van in the first place, so no idea what he was playing at.
  9. Having now sorted the non-working illumination for the heater controls I am now happy to add the Caddy here. I do appreciate the ability on quite a lot of modern stereos like this one to dial in any colour you like so it matches the car. Of course I noticed the light for the cigarette lighter was out about ten minutes after I took these photos... telling my OCD to bloody ignore that for a bit though as I've far, far, far more important jobs to attend to! Must have been one of the last VWs made with the green illumination, pretty much everything else had started to move to the (in my opinion, bloody lovely) blue and red in the late 90s.
  10. Ten minute job for this evening between running around like a headless chicken all afternoon and starting to prep dinner. Also had my booster jab earlier today and am already starting to feel rough. Main plan for this weekend is to actually clean the Mercedes so it can be dropped off with the new owner. Had really wanted to do that during the week, but time and weather kept getting in the way. Will really be happy once we get back to having daylight in the evenings again. Today I fixed... The backlighting for the heater controls on the Caddy. Mainly because it was bugging the hell out of my OCD. Just the one lamp for all that lot and a bunch of light pipes. (Some of which are on the faceplate). This also allowed me to get a look at what's broken regarding the temperature control cable. Pretty simple actually. There should be a metal clip where I've circled to grip the cable sheath (like on the red and white cables around 4 o'clock in the above photo), however the bit of plastic the clip should attach to has cracked. Basically everything to the right of the red line in this photo has broken off. This is apparently a well known weak point in this setup. A quick scan around online shows replacement units pretty readily available for less than £50, so I'm not going to invest too much time into trying to repair this one, especially as the tabs which are meant to secure it to the dash are also broken on 3/4 corners. The question will be whether I go for a used OEM one (which we know has a design weakness) or an aftermarket one which may be made of cheese. My instinct is to get an original one which isn't yet broken and to add a bit of reinforcement to the bit that always breaks off. The *tricky* bit is going to be figuring out whether I can transfer the AC specific bits to a non-AC baseplate (the facia just clips on/off so that's not a problem) as the vast majority of them are from non-AC cars. Hmm...some more research may be needed. Anyhow...meant I could finally get a proper dash at night photo (which I'll stick up in the relevant thread too in a sec). Camera makes it look far brighter and less green as usual. Only lit thing not currently working is the cigarette lighter - which of course I noticed approximately ten minutes *after* packing up for the day. One oversight on the part of the company who did the wheelchair conversion I feel is that they didn't provide a handle with which to close the rear door from inside. In the normal van configuration this would be pretty irrelevant, but I think getting into the rear seats is far easier from the back than trying to contort yourself through the front doors (having to climb UP into the back as well as around the seats is tricky). So it would be nice to be able to shut the rear door from inside without having to pull it shut by the edge and try to get your hand out the way quick enough to not shut it in the door. Will need to have a rummage through my stash of random crap and see if I can find a handle which wouldn't look horribly out of place.
  11. A closer look at that wiring mess reveals the tail is attached to the aftermarket alarm sounder...so that's definitely thoroughly dead then. Good thing I erred on the side of "I don't think so" when asked by the insurance company if it had an alarm. I'll pull that out then and see if I can find the other end of this to at least confirm that there's no power going to it. Yay, I get to stand on my head under a dashboard again! On the running theme of seeing if I can get vehicle systems back up and running I made a run over to Formula 1 in Newport Pagnell so this could happen. While the AC system was totally flat when I got the van, I had noted that both service caps were loose, plus the condenser looks way newer than 20 years and 100K miles...have to wonder if a new one was fitted at some point and they just never bothered gassing it up? I still have a bottle with some dregs of dry nitrogen from goodness only knows how many years ago, which in its last gasp shoved around 40psi into this system a few days ago. Checking this morning showed the pressure hadn't visibly dropped. Having something in there had also allowed me to check that the compressor clutch worked and the compressor ran - albeit only for a couple of seconds as I had no idea if there was any oil left in the system. It was a tense 30 minutes while the system ran the vacuum decay test (which basically is a leak check to see whether any air leaks back into it) was carried out - zero decay reported. Which says the system should hopefully be gas tight. It also shows it's reasonably dry (as water boiling off from the drier core etc would result in a *small* bit of vacuum decay). Machine was happy with all of the tests and charged properly. Real test was going to be starting up, pushing the button and seeing what happened. I should really have had a camera pointing at the service gauges to video it, but suffice to say they behaved exactly as expected. It's a bit hard to tell you'd think when it's all of 6C outside, but the system was definitely working. Suction line definitely got cold and there was heat quickly apparent on the liquid line. Definitely colder than ambient air coming out the vents too... exactly what we were after. No nasty noises from the compressor (that I can hear over the rattle of an SDi idling next to it anyway... though I'd by lying if I didn't admit it's a lot more refined than an XUD). Having working AC should really help me deal with the bit of damp in the cabin. Basically we'll run the heater at "as warm as I can deal with" on recirc with the AC on for a while and see if that helps. As the air con dehumidifies the air passing through it, that will help actively pull water out of the cabin. Next significant jobs in mind: [] Exterior clean. [] Dismantle and clean EGR system as it sure it's thoroughly sooted up. Especially given I've no idea how long that vacuum leak had been playing havoc with things. Can't see any obvious signs of it having been apart before, so it and the intake pipework will be well due a clean if that's the case. [] Paint front bumper so it looks slightly less scruffy. Longer term I have an idea in mind regarding the paintwork as a whole...open to inspiration that others might have too though. I'm already finding myself really quite attached to this little van so I'm going to try to make a reasonably tidy job of things. The rust around the window over the cab will be getting sorted and we'll see what we can do for the offside rear quarter too before the aforementioned larger scale paint job too. What colour do *you* think she should be painted?
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