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Korean Cortina - it's amazing what difference 10mm can make!

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On to the cooling system improvements, and this is why I think the low speed cooling is impeded, at least until the fans kick in. The (static) blades and motors cover a significant proportion of the radiator:


I was aware of this when I fitted them, but I didn't know how significant an effect it would be, plus these were already in my possession (borrowed from the blue Disco).

I've now removed them both, and replaced them with this.


This may seem like a backward step (and it may be), but there is logic behind my thinking. Firstly it removes the shielding effect, so the fan will be required less when actually moving slowly. And if the fan is predominantly required only when stationary i.e. idling, there will be less heat being generated, therefore less airflow actually needed. Thirdly, the new fan covers the whole height of the radiator - the previous ones had a gap, so some of the tubes would allow uncooled water straight back into the engine. And lastly, using a fan as a pusher means you get a lot of turbulence and back pressure as you are trying to 'fire' the air at a restriction. For this reason, pulling the air through is more efficient.

Early signs are that the duty cycle of the fan at idle is less, so it would seem to be having a positive effect. Proof of the pudding will be when I see hot temperatures next!

Of course, the other benefit is that I can put the fans back on the Disco, and have the luxury of air con on the log collector...

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No, I've not tried either of those - not seen any independent figures to suggest how significantly they affect heat transfer. I think they would be more appropriate if the cooling system as a whole is marginal, whereas mine is fine when driving along. Just when sat in traffic, with both fans constantly spinning and the temperature gauge still high, feels like there's nowhere to go!

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1 hour ago, mat_the_cat said:

No, I've not tried either of those - not seen any independent figures to suggest how significantly they affect heat transfer. I think they would be more appropriate if the cooling system as a whole is marginal, whereas mine is fine when driving along. Just when sat in traffic, with both fans constantly spinning and the temperature gauge still high, feels like there's nowhere to go!

I'll be giving the Purple Ice thing a go, especially after the CX briefly touched 100 degrees sitting in traffic in North Wembley yesterday, both fans going. North Wembley is the pits for stationary traffic now.

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I'll be interested to know if you see any visible improvement? I'm not 100% how much of a factor the vapour barrier is in a pressurised cooling system - I'd have expected the pressure to limit the formation of localised bubbles, but by no means an expert. My (limited) understanding is that water alone is a great coolant; it's the addition of glycol which reduces the heat transfer abilities.

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On 7/4/2019 at 6:11 PM, mat_the_cat said:

It's always felt a bit 'looser' since the engine swap, despite me replacing every single bush and ball joint on the car, and stiffening the shell with seam welding and hidden tubing - so it *should* feel tight, at least for an 80s car! I'd just put it down to a rose-tinted memory, and being spoilt by modern cars!

Well, I'm happy to say I've made a massive improvement to the handling, for zero cost and about 10 minutes work! I'm off to bed now after a very enjoyable drive, but will explain more later. And yes, I am kicking myself somewhat!

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On 7/4/2019 at 8:17 PM, RayMK said:

It was strange and a little sad seeing the ex-RayMK Stellar being owned and driven by someone else but I'm pleased that, despite oil worries and a noisy exhaust manifold, it was more or less behaving.  It was over a year ago that I parted company with it.  Must be due for an MOT again.  Good luck to Mr CMS206 with that. I hope it does not give too much hassle or expense.

944 miles it covered without coughing Ray; due to job issues it got shoved down the pecking order slightly but it's going for a slight tickle session with the magic sparkle stick on Saturday where we'll hopefully have it test ready for sometime next week.

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I confess not to having much knowledge of suspension design, apart from the basics like castor and camber – the simple reason being it’s never been a much interest to me, so I’ve never read up on it. But given that it felt dynamically worse than the ex-RayMK Stellar, and Ian felt like it had worn bushes made me realise that something was actually not right, so I started thinking it’s about time I did some learning!

A number of factors started coming together in my head – firstly, the fact that it seems to have visible negative camber with the wheels straight, yet (as pointed out at SF ’19) huge positive camber with the wheels turned. I always park with the wheels straight so hadn’t really noticed this before. Secondly I noticed an unusual wear pattern on the outside edge of the new tyres. Thirdly in my research I read something about wheels with a different offset potentially screwing up handling…and although mine are the original wheels, I had fitted (small, 10mm) spacers in order to clear the bigger brake calipers.

Cortina front suspension (as is typical with double wishbone setups) has a large positive scrub radius; the only real advantage which I can see is that it helps the steering effort when parking. By its nature it’s going to be more prone to tramlining, but increasing it by 10mm is only going to exaggerate that effect due to the greater leverage. This leverage also acts on the dampers, springs and anti-roll bar, making it feel softer and more wallowy. And crucially, it will increase the already present camber change during cornering, leading to unpredictable handling. Especially if you then introduce bump or braking forces.

This link explains it better than I can:


So, I wanted to try it out without the spacers. A few minutes work with a flap disk on the calipers gave enough room for the wheels to fit, so time to take it out for a drive. What a transformation! I really don’t know how I put up with it for so long – maybe it was because I was still having fun despite the handling :-) I still have to take it out in the wet (I’m sure I’ll get chance this weekend!) but it feels so much more planted, less prone to wandering on uneven surfaces, and you can feel grip levels better through the steering wheel.

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Fortunately that tankful seems to have been down to an unusually full fill-up, as the next one was 33mpg which seems equally doubtful!

Another 400 miles to and from FOTU covered in quite warm temperatures, and what is the verdict on the fan mods? Well, going on the gauge the temperature still rises to a similar position, but the fan is on for less of the time - i.e. it actually switches off in traffic so the measured temperature must be dropping, even if not shown by the gauge. Previously, I'd be sat there with the fans running most of the time, rarely dropping out, which was a worry. If I turn the fan on manually with the AC switch, the temperature sits about halfway on the gauge, which gives me more confidence. I could mess around with the 'on' temperature, but I don't think it's rising enough to be of concern. Plus there is cooling capacity in reserve should I need it.

The other change I've now made is the addition of some Water Wetter, thanks to Tadhg Tiogar :-) No chance to determine any difference, as the way back home was both traffic-free and cooler. I will report back if I see a lower reading on the gauge, although if it does aid heat transfer it will also improve the transfer to the temperature sender!

I quite like the photo that was taken of me leaving the show - might be biased but think the car actually appears almost good-looking from this angle.


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Just realised I didn't mention the handling - I won't lie and say it's turned it into a great handling car, but it does at least feel safe now, and more like how I remembered it. Previously I think that the offset was exaggerating the effect that the scrub radius was having on reducing the steering effort, so (in the wet especially) the steering could go unexpectedly light as you were cornering, robbing you of feedback about the grip levels.

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I'm keen to make a start on the AC installation, and one of my first problems was how to attach the compressor to the engine. Not many of the early V8s had AC, so the chances of an original looking bracket appeared slim. After much searching, I seemed to be in luck though.


No idea how long this had sat on a shelf!


Unfortunately it's massive! Using the original holes on the mount it clashes with the chassis rail, so I think I'll have to resort to a (as yet unknown) plan B. I haven't even got a compressor yet, so maybe I'll find the most compact one I can, and see whereabouts I can place that.

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I’d love to have half of their skills and facilities! I’m fairly confident anything I come up with won’t look anywhere near as neat, but also (hopefully) won’t take quite as much time. At the moment I really don’t know, but unless I can find a very compact compressor it will have to extend rearwards over the top of the rocker cover, so quite a bit of leverage on any bracket which fixes to the front of the engine. I’m considering a direct mount compressor (rather than ear mount), as that seems to lend itself better to bracket fabrication. I could maybe use the top of the rocker cover for support too, just to stop flexing.


Ear mounting on the left, direct on the right. I'm spending rather an unhealthy amount of time browsing compressor catalogues and specifications!

In better news I may have scored a suitable condenser for a VERY good price :-) Just need to wait for it to arrive to see whether it will fit for certain, as I’ve only selected it based on Googled dimensions.

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I don't own a Rover 45. I have never owned a Rover 45. I don't ever plan to own a Rover 45. So why do I find myself the proud owner of a Rover 45 condenser? 


A: Because it was cheap!  20190812_203119.thumb.jpg.ea4953f714d1a9886e832151c45e2282.jpg

Rimmer Bros sent a clearance catalogue through the post, as they need to make room for more stock. Some crazy prices in there, so I took advantage.

Looks like it should fit too, fortunately. I noticed it came with a frame for mounting cooling fans, which I thought would be a bonus as it's one less thing to worry about.

I was pleasantly surprised to see it came with not only the frame, but a pair of fans!


Not ideal to be blowing instead of sucking, and will block airflow someone when not turning, but I'll have to see what the overall effect is.

In other news I've booked it in for an MOT this Friday - gave them my reg no. over the phone to which the response was:
"Hiya mate, how many miles is it up to now?"
"Just clicked over 201,000."
"It's getting a fair bit of use then!"
(4000 miles last year...don't ask about fuel costs!)

I'm going to get the suspension alignment checked too, make sure everything is OK. Fingers crossed for the test!

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My understanding is that the cooling capacity is less, although there are other benefits such as no pressurisation. Pretty sure it's just a matter of airflow though, as on the move at decent speeds, the gauge doesn't budge regardless of load.

I've been giving the compressor mounting a lot of thought, and I reckon that instead of mounting in the 'factory' position high up, I'd be better off using the space low down on the block which is normally taken up by a PAS pump. Number of reasons:
Should look neater, lower temperature, a shorter belt run, and no worries about bonnet clearance. I've got an idea for a pivoting  bracket to allow me to set the tension, but I need a compressor first to start building that. And I'm still not sure on compressor sizing - trade off between power loss and cooling capacity...

I've been planning the overall layout (below), which led me to consider the effect that putting a condenser (albeit only 16mm thick) directly in front of my radiator would have! I reckon the single large fan on the rear is slightly better than two small ones on the front, but firstly it's switching in slightly too late, and secondly more airflow will be needed for the AC. So here is the planned circuit and layout:


The AC will operate the twin fans in front of the condenser and radiator via a trinary switch on the receiver/drier. (This both stops the compressor functioning at dangerously high and low  pressures, but also operates the fans only when the pressure in the AC system demands it). The rear radiator fan will only be operated by coolant temperature.
I will replace the existing fan switch (closes at 90 deg C) with a twin contact switch from a BX, as I recall they close one contact at 87 deg C, and the other at 92 deg C. As the engine gets hot, first the rear fan will suck air through, then if the temperature continues to rise, both front fans will switch in. Handily the BX switch has the same M22 x 1.5 thread as the Audi radiator.

I'll make a start on the wiring first, as a lot of the bits are considerably cheaper in the States so I may wait to see if the exchange rate improves! I can't find a UK source of the reduced size AC hose anywhere online either.

In other news it failed the MOT today for brake imbalance. I think the problem is an oil leak from the rear axle I thought I'd cured :-( New bearing and oil seal didn't stop it so I figured it must be seeping past the bearing outer race, so I sealed that up too. Still there is a leak, so it's either a blocked breather (but why just on that side?) or seeping down the halfshaft and between that and the inner race. New brake shoes on order, so watch this space.

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I forgot to post up this photo yesterday...towbar coming in handy to collect a log splitter this week.


They adjusted the suspension alignment yesterday too, and both camber and toe were out - I think down to the fact that they were adjusted with larger wheels fitted.


Ignore the fact the figures are still in red on the lower diagram, that's just because their machine surprisingly did not have the settings stored for a Stellar. If you compare them with the factory settings they are now pretty close to nominal, and well within tolerance.


It seems a bit more planted on the road and less affected by rough surfaces, but I may just be imagining that!

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Legal for another year! The oil leakage at the bearing was indeed the problem, and it seems like I'm not the only one to suffer from it:

I put the halfshaft on the bench and made a 'well' with plasticine around the bearing, which I filled with thin oil to check whether it was leaking through the seal or between shaft and inner race. But nothing, so it must be getting between the outer rae and axle housing. I've sealed it up again with silicone, but I think it's becoming debonded in use - so I think some Loctite 638 bearing retainer would be a better choice. I will monitor for now and see what happens.

The owner of the garage was telling me that the last few years they've had a new member of staff since my last MOT, so what they do is send them out to drive my car in from the car park. Purely to see the reaction when they realise that my old heap isn't entirely standard! Apparently quite a few WTF moments...

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