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Korean Cortina - now the hottest Stellar in the UK!

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35 minutes ago, Asimo said:

What you describe makes sense. 

To be fair, you're absolutely right.  If the drain on the AC evaporator blocks, the problem will be massively worse, and you'll never de-mist the car regardless of AC on, off part on, fresh or recirc air.  Mat has a good opportunity to avoid all the usual issues with AC here.

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It's all a trade-off with space though :-(

Anything other than option 1 will require the glovebox to be sacrificed. I'm wondering about a temporary arrangement, to see how I get on with misting up, before committing. Easy to re-mount the evaporator than un-cut up the glovebox!

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Minor tinkerage yesterday, tidying up the combined front fog and spot lamps.


I bought them around 2000 I think from Vehicle Wiring Products, and they are quite nicely made cast aluminium units. However, 20 years have taken their toll, and the paint was starting to flake off. I wire brushed off the white oxide:


And gave them a quick coat of paint.


It struck me after the first coat that I could and probably should get my mate to powder coat them, so didn't bother giving another coat - I'll just take them to him when they start looking a bit tatty again.

Bolted back into position, and first the fog lights on:


Then main beam bringing the spots on too:


A nice satisfying job, although the photos highlight the fact I need to straighten out the lower part of the bumper!

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Thanks to COVID-19 this has been pushed into daily service on my 80 mile a day commute. I normally car share with my wife in her modern Honda, but now she is working from home I need to use my own wheels. On the way back home yesterday it felt like bank holiday weekend traffic (everyone it seems wants to self-isolate in Wales!) but there's still plenty of scenic spots off the tourist trail.


I may have cursed it but everything is running perfectly. The lower cut-out temperature for the cooling fan means the gauge barely rises above halfway, and so far has not reached the second stage of bringing the twin fans on. Diff ratio is a lot better for cruising (looks like a 2mpg improvement) but acceleration is also effectively better as I can reach a higher speed before I have to change gear.

I think I surprised an Alfa Brera driver on Wednesday, when I pulled away from him uphill as the road opened out. We were both motoring along through the corners, but I think my lighter weight helped on the climb. I had a flash of acknowledgement from him when he turned off, and I wonder what he was thinking about the old Hyundai with a National Trust sticker in the back window. Not sure whether you can hear the engine from a following car...

All this fun (and the alignment errors last year) meant that I've only got 4k miles from a pair of tyres :-( So I ordered some of my all time favourite tyres, fortunately before the exchange rate crashed.


I've probably got another couple of weeks life in them, and I've put them on the rear as I feel better able to cope with loss of grip there.

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  • 3 weeks later...

I haven't forgotten about the AC installation, but I've come to the conclusion that although the Hyundai Amica evaporator just about fits, it's all going to be a little too tight once I design and make (somehow!) a housing for it. Plus, I realised that I'd have to modify the pipework to come out in the opposite direction, as the smaller pipe need to be towards the top which is precisely where I have least space!

So, onto plan B, or is it C? Back to Google, and this time I think I've struck very lucky!


Smaller and deeper than the one I have at the moment, more flexibility in orientation, and comes with a hosing too which saves me from making one! An impressive 6kW of cooling power too, which is well matched to my compressor. Easily available over in the US, although postage is horrendously expensive at the moment as freight is often transported using excess capacity on passenger flights. I know, first world problems and all that...(but it is getting very warm in the cabin in this recent nice weather!)

Coming back from work today I stopped off to get a tyre re-sealed to the rim on the green Discovery, and as my usual local garage is closed I went to the place which does the MOT on the van. They seem a decent bunch and are always interested in the LT when I take it in. Obviously they hadn't seen the Stellar before, so I had them all taking turns to check it over once I rolled up B) The P76 rocker covers got them all stumped apart from one of the older guys...

I'll leave you with an old TV advert:


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1 hour ago, mat_the_cat said:

.... Easily available over in the US, although postage is horrendously expensive at the moment as freight is often transported using excess capacity on passenger flights.....

The recent general fall of the pound against the dollar to levels that the pound-to-Euro used to occupy doesn't help either. At one point it dipped to £1=US$1.17.

I've got a sizeable parcel on the way from the US as of this week, and the postage and import duty for it have never been higher.

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  • 2 weeks later...

The new evaporator has arrived, and initial signs are looking like it could have been designed for the job! I've matched up and bought what I think will be a suitably sized expansion valve, here fitted.


This leaves both feed and return pointing towards the slot already cut into the casing.


Also moulded into the casing is a drain pan, to catch the condensate.


Fabricating a casing would have taken me a while, and added to that, the easiest material (steel) for me to use, is less than ideally suited as it will conduct the 'coolth' away from the evaporator. So, will it fit?


Yup!! I've decided against building in a bypass at this stage; two reasons, firstly space, and secondly I'm not sure I'll need one. I follow the logic of why I might, but I think that in practice if I need to demist, then I'll have the AC on for the whole journey, so shouldn't experience the misting up which occurs when you turn it off.

The only time I've noticed its effects are in winter, when the AC cuts out due to low temperature, and then you do suffer steaming up. Not likely to be a problem in a 3 seasons car.

So the air will simply blow out of the existing blower unit on the left, and into the evaporator on the right.


I should be able to adapt the original ducting to suit. On the outlet I'll do the same to connect to the heater matrix casing, but before I do that I'll have to connect up the refrigerant hoses to the bulkhead unions.


See what I mean about being made to measure? Outlets pointing in the right place! Sure, it'll be fiddly to connect, but all looks doable :-)

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6 hours on it, and little to show for it, but I've at least worked out how I'm going to do it. First of all I temporarily mounted the unit, and replaced the ducting so I was sure it would fit.


Then I made up the first of the two hoses - a dry run before crimping, just to make sure.

All well and good at this stage, although I can't actually see what I'm doing so have to stick my phone up under the dashboard to take a photo and see how it looks!


Encouraged by this success, I crimp up both hoses, and this is where it goes downhill. 

The larger of the two hoses is both too long, and not flexible enough to cope with the offset between bulkhead fitting and evaporator.


I can't move the evaporator any further away from the bulkhead, or indeed in any direction! Even if I welded up the bulkhead, and moved the fitting upwards, the combined length of the crimp connectors alone, even without the hose, is around 20mm too long.

So the only think I can think to do is sacrifice a couple of 45 degree fittings, shorten one, and cut the ferrule off the other. With a bit of flap disc action, one fits inside the other.


Final task for the evening was to wrestle it all back under the dash, and loosely connect it up to see where I need to weld it.


YES!! Now just the simple task of welding it in that position, and hoping that my welds are good enough to withstand AC system pressures...


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I welded it this afternoon, and had a splattery moment when I first started. Ground it back, and it looked like this :-( (decent weld below it).


I can only think that the air in the shroud gas line was being purged by the Argoshield gas initially.

I buzzed over it again, and all was fine, but I went over it all with the flap wheel just to check! Temporarily connected it back up again to check, and it's still all orientated correctly.


Brackets and ducting next, before I can get it filled and test it!

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3 hours ago, Skizzer said:

Project Binky levels of fabrication going on here. Excellent ?

Thanks, but seeing as I'm planning to hold the thing in place with a cut up joist hanger, I hardly think they would approve of my bracketary...

2 hours ago, spartacus said:

'Liked' for the inventiveness and skillz, not the fact the pipe didn't line up!

Well, if I'd waited before drilling the holes in the bulkhead, I'd have had a chance of getting them right! As it is I'm amazed they are even close! I just thought I'd be able to run the hose to where I needed, but didn't consider the sheer bulk of the hoses and fittings. Ah well, it's all a learning curve.

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Call me sad, but I've bought a book on the subject. A bit late, but at least I'll find out what I've done wrong! It's out of print now, but I did find a company where you can print to order (hence the delay...)


Back to the job in hand. I've removed a few bits and pieces to improve access. This is the space I've got...


...and this is the original ducting linking the blower motor to the matrix assembly.


I will be cutting out a large chunk of this and connecting it to the new evaporator. 

Before I could fit it I had to fasten the expansion valve temperature sensor to the evaporator outlet.


This controls the flow of refrigerant based on the temperature of the outlet, closing it off if it gets too cold, i.e. the refrigerant is condensing in the outlet rather than the heat exchanger. I think I've sized it appropriately to the system, but will wait and see. The temperature sensor is wrapped in foam insulation to make sure it picks up the temperature of the pipe, rather than the airflow.

Onto brackets now, and look away now Project Binky fans!


Easy to cut up and form into restraining straps, and already galvanised!

O rings were lubricated with PAG oil...


...and seat into grooves in the bulkhead female fittings.


These were a bastard to get to, and I really hope I've managed not to trap the O ring. I want to leak check the system before too much work reinstalling parts, in case I need to fix any leaks!

But all being well I've fitted the evaporator for (hopefully) good!


There's one strap at the top, one at the bottom onto the rail below the glovebox, plus the rigid refrigerant line means it's already held securely. Once I sort the ducting it should be held even more firmly, depending how I make it (still TBD!)

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On 4/28/2020 at 9:27 PM, mat_the_cat said:

But all being well I've fitted the evaporator for (hopefully) good!

Nope! I kept on worrying that I hadn't been able to tighten up the unions well enough due to limited access. And shortly after fitting, I noticed the heater tap on the matrix was leaking the gasket. It struck me that I could connect the evaporator to the bulkhead fittings on the bench with unhindered access, and thread the whole lot through. And access to the heater tap would be much improved actually possible once the evaporator was removed.

So out it came, and off came the heater tap. It looked like the cork gasket had disintegrated, which had been used when I'd had a new matrix made. There was also some damage to the sealing face of the two, which I filled with epoxy before filing flat again.


I cut a new card gasket, and given the sealing face damage, smeared it with sealant before refitting.


I cut the original ducting down to fit between evaporator casing and matrix assembly, and made up a galvanised steel plate with a corresponding hole for the ducting.



I bonded this in place with polyurethane adhesive, and left in the vice to cure overnight.



A quick lick of paint tidied it up, and was ready for fitting to the evaporator casing.



I could then attach the bulkhead unions with new O rings - I don't know why I didn't think of doing it this way before!


I blanked off the slot with a couple of plates and some closed cell foam, so that the airflow will all be directed through the heater assembly. Next stage was to jiggle the unit into place, and re-connect. It fits!!


Now this is in place, I can start to actually put stuff back, which is always a satisfying part of a job. Starting with more ducting for the heater, which was another piece in the 3D jigsaw which dictated the evaporator position. I'd never have had a chance with the evaporator I originally bought!


Note the threaded boss at the top of the picture, which Hyundai thoughtfully put in for my benefit :-) I've no idea what it was designed for, but I'm really wondering whether by chance I've ended up fitting it in a similar manner to the factory system.

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Bugger. The coolant leak remains, and is worse :-(

The actual valve body is cracked, and in such a way that clamping it down opens it up. I don't think it's repairable, although as a very last resort I may have to try. Other options I can think of are to ask Hyundai if it's still available (ha!), live without a heater totally (no!), allow coolant to pass through the whole time (a possible, as there is also an air divert so no air passes through the matrix when set to cold), or adapt a different valve to fit.

I'd rather avoid hot water passing through it at all times, as it just adds to the heat soak in the cabin - but many cars do just that, and with AC the extra thermal loading is less of an issue. I would still need to make up a flanged outlet however.

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A bit more positivity in this post, I think/hope, although starting with some negativity. Excuse me for any rambling on; I've had a drink now, and very little sleep this week after four double shifts.

I tracked down the part number, and it seemed to suggest there was a choice of two compatible parts.


Hyundai still listed them as being available, but after trying to order the first I was told NLA. I'm still waiting for a call back about the second...

It's difficult to explain, but I really don't want to have to modify another part to fit. If that had been the only job I needed to do I wouldn't mind, and would probably even relish the challenge. But now I really want to crack on with the AC installation, and this is diverting my efforts away from it.

So I'd really like a simple solution. Around 5 years ago I found someone who had run a main dealer, and had kept all the stock when he retired 25 years previously. I'd bought a fair few items, but not a heater valve. I dropped him an email to enquire, but sadly had one bounce back to say the account was no longer active due to his recent death :-(

So my mind started thinking about a potential repair. My initial thoughts were to use a structural epoxy adhesive (3M 2216) we use on a similar plastic at work. With a well designed joint, and proper surface preparation, the bond can be actually stronger than the substrate. But mending a crack is far from ideal. No way to prepare the surface, and the very presence of a crack means a massive stress concentration.

So I thought on how to open up the crack. Couldn't get a Dremmel in there, so I had the bright idea of using a soldering iron to melt a groove. But then I wondered if I could actually weld an effective repair? I was pretty sure it was made from nylon, so on the basis of nothing to lose, I had a go!


Using a suitable welding rod I was able to build up the material again.


The trick seemed to be to make sure to mix in the new material into a molten pool of the old. If the original plastic wasn't hot enough I was able to pull away the z̶i̶p̶ ̶t̶i̶e̶ welding rod and weld from the surface. Sufficiently mixed though, and the zip tie broke before the weld.

Crack now filled:


And the clamp land built up for strength: 


I also built up the sealing face in the same way, before filing it flat. Some traces of the lumpiness of the welded surface remain, but will be filled by the gasket sealer.


As a belt and braces measure, I gave it a coating of adhesive, both to smooth out the surface, and add strength and sealing. I mentioned preparation earlier, and as usual it's all-important, especially in the aerospace industry where I work. First of all I put the casing in a plasma oven - this activates the surface and gives a significantly stronger bond. Then I put the mixed adhesive into a vacuum chamber to remove any air bubbles formed during the mixing process. Then applied it with a syringe.


I thought about whether I should delay this post until I'd fitted it, so I could claim with confidence that it would work! But the truth is I really don't know! Full cure for the epoxy is 7 days, so I want to wait a while before exposing it to boiling coolant.

In other news, I've found someone willing to scan in all 32 pages of the factory workshop manual for the AC, so I can see how they did it and where I've gone wrong!

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If you completely fail to fix this and can't find another, would it be possible to make up a pipe stub so that you delete this valve and have a "permanent" heater, but then put an electrically actuated / solenoid type water valve elsewhere in the coolant loop to the matrix? (IE underbonnet somewhere)  That way you don't have a vulnerable heater tap in the car, ready to leak coolant all over your carpet again, but you can still turn the flow on and off.  Especially as the valve doesn't appear to be used as temperature control, it's just a "turn the flow off if it's not needed" sort of valve.


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Yes. That would be pretty much the plan, if I have no success - as you suggest the actual heat control is done by diverting the airflow, and the valve is just to stop the unnecessary water flow when turned to fully cold. So a hidden switch to close it off in the heat of summer would be a possible solution.

I'm actually struggling to get it apart, and I'm now trying to convince myself that although it leaks air, it may in fact be watertight given the higher viscosity of water! If I can't strip it down, I will still give it a try before condemning it.

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4 hours ago, mat_the_cat said:

I'm now trying to convince myself that although it leaks air, it may in fact be watertight given the higher viscosity of water!

If I wore glasses, I would look over them at you with the look of "well we both know that's complete bollocks, but I'm not going to say it".  But I don't wear glasses, so clearly it'll be fine.

although it really does sound like even if you do manage to get it to seal and work at the moment, it's remaining serviceable life is measured in minutes.

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Bollocks perhaps, but not *complete* bollocks... I remember when manufacturing water pumps we used to carry out an air leak test, and a surprising leak was permissible, as it wouldn't leak with water. However, given the magnitude of this leak I didn't manage to convince myself it would all be OK!



This is the remains of the shaft seal when I finally got it apart! It sat in a female groove on the inside of the housing, and although looked in one piece intially, soon broke up when I started poking at it. Fortunately, I had a suitably sized spare so it could go back together.


All lightly coated with silicone grease.


I then leak tested it again by immersion, and happy to say no leaks visible :-) It was 2am by this point though, so re-fitting can wait until today!

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Finally, I've got to the stage where all the function parts of the AC system are installed, plumbed in and wired up. All I need to do now is leak test it, and fill up with gas!

The last few steps were to connect up the blower motor to the evaporator inlet, which was a simple job of a sheet of steel with a flange welded to it.


As I have to slide in the motor casing from the front, I've had to make up a removable flange, to allow the motor to slot in and out.


Then in with the motor, and connect it up. 


Just enough clearance to allow the recirculation flap to operate, fortunately. Turning the blower motor on fired air through the system for the first time, with no evidence of leaks.

Less than can be said for the cooling system, as although it appears the tap is watertight, it seems as though it's seeping from the hose joint. For that reason I've left the remainder of the ducting off for the moment, until I can replace the hose.

I got my hands on a scanned copy of the manual, and by complete guesswork have mounted the evaporator in an identical way!


Also of interest was the performance test.


I'm interested to see how mine compares to the factory system, as that used R12 refrigerant rather than R134a, although mine has the advantage of a more advanced condenser design, and significantly more airflow!

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Pressures are different, yes - lower for R134a at the evaporator, but higher in the condenser. You can get away with using an R12 TXV (and I've done this with my BX install) but it won't be maximum efficiency. R134a is a less effective refrigerant too, so the two effects can make a converted system quite weak. Fortunately the BX system is rather overengineered, so still works well.

On 5/10/2020 at 12:33 PM, mat_the_cat said:

although it appears the tap is watertight, it seems as though it's seeping from the hose joint.

Nope, it was the heater tap again! Despite passing the air pressure check and looking OK initially, once the system warmed up it started leaking again, and dripping down onto the hose. I have to confess that in my haste to get it working again I didn’t actually calculate what size O ring I needed, just picked the most suitable from what I had in stock – 1.5mm cross section x 3mm bore, in nitrile rubber. Using this handy calculator:


I was able to work out that there was insufficient compression, so I think it was a marginal seal when cold, and as clearances grew/seal softened the leak started. 2mm cross section x 3.5mm bore (of which I have none!) should be a better bet. I’ve gone for Viton rather than nitrile, for improved high temperature performance so just waiting for that to arrive.

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  • mat_the_cat changed the title to Korean Cortina - now the hottest Stellar in the UK!

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      More will follow this evening...
    • By Supernaut
      What does a cheeky bid on eBay get you?
      An E36 BMW 316i with two sets of wheels, a DAB radio, an MOT until December, 110k miles on the clocks, a slightly* fucked back box and a bit of grot on the driver's side sill.






      This is co-owned between me and 17-Coffees and our plan is to do a light restoration and just generally piss about with it. It's actually really nice to drive, and is surprisingly brisk for only being a 1.6.
      Yes, the alloys are getting sacked off ASAP as it came with the original steel wheels with all-but-new Toyo Proxes on them!
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