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Cobbler's's Talbot Express - Manifold done. Now, exhaust.

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All joking aside, Insa Turbos are actually pretty decent remoulds. Used them on a Defender for years and they gave no trouble and unlike yours didn't require lumps of pig iron welding on the rims to bring them into balance. Having also driven a few 4x4s on mud terrains I can confirm that your arse will be biting chunks out of the seat base the first time you tackle a roundabout in the wet. 

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They feel nice and "bitey" on tarmac in the dry, certainly seem a soft compound. I'll make sure to go very steady in the wet, You're far from the first person to say this. I wonder why they're so crap?

I think there's 4 wheel weights in a row on the worst one, It only seems a lot to me cos I'm comparing them to low profile car tyres where there's 25g on each wheel. Still can't work out why the first bloke didn't want to balance them, he was leaning on a flipping balancing machine while saying it, the second place had them all sorted out in no time at all.




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The general belief is remoulds are still badly made from recycled sandals and fag ends. The internal ribbing in mine were identical which looked as if they were single manufacturer which ties with what I've heard about Insa Turbo that they are choosy about the donor carcasses. To be honest, that kind of weight on even a new mud terrain isn't out of the ordinary and I've just had a Uniroyal done on the car which was 95g on the piss.

Basic mud terrains have zero concessions to road holding so no water dispersing sipes or grooves to channel  water away and reduce aquaplaning, just big flat blocks. Think a kind of slick tyre, just one with big gaps to grip soft mud or rocks but which then aren't designed to remove water when on tarmac.


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Ran this up some old manky roads and it does seem to plod along OK  but I've hardly gone green laning in it. MPG is 17/18, which is within 10% of normal, which seems impossible considering how much speed these tyres have knocked off.

It stops pretty well in the wet, I couldn't lock the wheels up so I'll take that. My arse does twitch a bit on wet winding bends, but there genuinely hasn't been anything to make me feel wary

other than what people have said.


The front tyres flick muck up the side of the van and somehow cover the wing mirror glasses in shit so I can't see behind me, but when I'm in first gear going up Winnats pass with half a dozen cars behind me it's probably for the best.


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Right so, gearchanges have been getting a bit more cumbersome on this as of late. These vans were designed to be LHD column change, so when they converted them to RHD with a floor shifter, they made some ridiculous setup to turn the gearchange through eleventy degrees,


It's all very compromised and it all wears at each pivot, and the angle at which it directs force onto the selector rod that pokes out of the gearbox is wrong so it wears that bush out too.

I've not got a lot of money to spend at the moment on account of not earning any money at the moment, so I thought I'd see what I could do for free or cheap to tide me over.

I noticed the selector rod that comes out of the box was wobbly and loose and stiff. I can get JKtowers man to rebush this collar for £50, but I figured it wears oval, so all I really need to do is turn it 90 degrees and I've got another "fresh" wear face, plus put a new O ring in it.


It all came out easy enough - the thread pitch is 1.5mm, so I need something a quarter of this (0.375mm) to use as a shim.


This airfilter box will do:


So some vernier action and scissors later I had a shim:



 a new slightly thicker O ring and some fresh grease, I refitted the lot. My calculations were correct, and it's rotated the bush more or less exactly 90 degrees:


Gearchange is improved, but still not brilliant, so I took a video of all the mechanisms while I went in the cab and waggled the stick;


No fucking wonder I can't get gears, the whole bastard engine is moving half an inch side to side! That explains why 2nd gear is a right nightmare to get when turning left sharp too.

Unfortunately, this means spending £70 on some engine mounts so it'll have to wait while I sell my other van. 

In the mean time I'm going to DIY rebush the idler relay too. Again JKtowers man will do this for me for £60, but I just need a long bolt, some bushes and a cheap chinese adjustable reamer so I should be able to do it for about a tenner.


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In between other stuff today at work I took off the relay thingy to strip it, clean it up and see what I needed to order. The plan was a couple of oilite bushings to replace the plastic ones, then ream them out to suit the unthreaded section of a long M10 bolt, instead of the M8 that's here.


It came off the van quite easily, I thought I'd be on my back scratting around but it's about a 15 minute job from on top.

Cleaned in the parts washing sink, I really inspected it and there's really very little play in it side to side, but there's about 2mm of endfloat.


Stripped down you can see what we've got:

Basically the nylon bushes need replacing. I didn't realise there was a central collar, but it makes sense. That collar is what the bolt tightens against and it stops the whole thing crushing.

I couldn't immediately find new nylon bushes, but I can get oilite ones roughly correct, however really, all I need to do is sort out the endfloat.

I gave the parts a 15 minute wazz over in the media blaster, because why not?


I masked the balls off, they're still in good fettle, the cups on the link rods aren't ace, but they're not too bad really.

So since I'd blasted them I etch primed and gave them a coat of "custom crackle black" which is basically a mega thick coat of sprayable stonechip shield immediately followed by a coat of satin black. The paints react a bit and it leaves a pleasing finish.



On the right you can see a washer, that's another "spacer" to fix the endfloat - I opened the hole of an m8 repair washer out to 12mm so it fit over the central collar, and then sanded it down to the right thickness. Obviously I only had a stainless steel washer, so it took absolutely bastard ages even with a belt sander. With the spacer in one end, it all pivots freely but had basically no endfloat at all.



With it all together, there was still very slight side to side play, but basically sod all. I cheated here - I stretched some 5mm O rings over the (12mm) central collar. With plenty of grease on, these are pushed down into the housing by the nylon collars and take some of the axial load. Not all of it, but with them there's no perceptible play whatsover.

When refitting all this, I noticed the pivot bolt under the gear stick was loose. It's got fresh copper grease on so somebody has been here not too long ago. I tightened it up and the whole mechanism bound up, so somethings amiss here too. That can be the next job.

I'm very pleased to report that even with baggy engine mounts, the gearchange is now absolutely transformed, for a total of £nothing.

While I was at all this, I noticed the passenger headlamp glass was misting up a bit.

RHD lamps for these are unobtanium, so I was keen to sort this before the reflector was ruined - I was going to remove the glass, dry it all out and reseal it. However, when taking the headlamp off the van the glass fell off the front, I managed to catch it on my foot and save it from breaking thankfully, otherwise it'd probably be getting a pair of 7" round lamps bodged on.


Overall the reflector is pretty much spot on, so I stuck the glass back on with some neutral cure sealant and I'll refit the light tomorrow. I probably should have a poke at the drivers side light too because I really could do without the lense falling out and smashing.



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Yeah, they're the same light, It's a DAF 45. There were none available at all for years, but they recently started making LHD ones again.

Apparently swapping the glasses over will work to convert the light to RHD, but luckily I didn't have to do that.

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I've had a sneak peak at next year's revised Driving Theory Test...

Q: Why should you have your tyres balanced when replaced?

a: To reduce strain on suspension components
B: To ensure proper control of the vehicle
3: To make sure your fridge doesn't pop open and all your beer goes everywhere
IV: All of the above

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With 2 out of three engine mounts done, I had to get round to the one that was an advisory on last years MOT. I don't think it was that old, but they're all dogshit thesedays.

I did it on a really hot day and couldn't be arsed going outside, so I decided to tart up all the hardware.



all quite grotty, I stuck the aly mount in the sandblaster (it's just a cheapo ebay sandblaster,  100% unusable as supplied but I got it going after some tweaks.


With bare aly, it seems go go crusty when it gets wet, so I "anodized" it



Left it for an hour, rinsed it off and it seals the surface a bit.



I blasted the bolts too, and then buffed them a bit with scotchbrite on the bench grinder.


They look nice but will go rusty in minutes, so I nickel plated them, which is pretty easy. I would ordinarily just buy new bolts but I was mainly killing time. I have the nickel plating setup for obscure fasteners and contacts on stuff I repair at work, it's basically a tupperware tub full of vinegar and a phone charger.



After plating and a quick spin against a  scotchbrite pad, they look presentable and wont rust immediately.


All back together:


with that folley out of the way, I had a go at the interior wiring - it's got an MOT coming up, so I was basically busying myself to avoid the harsh reality of MOTing a 28 year old van that's kept outside and used all year round.

The fridge igniter didn't always work - it's a fancy one that senses if the flame goes out and "reignites" it, but you'd turn it on and it would do nothing, then randomly start working 10 minutes later. 

That was an easy fix:


I need to have a word with the person who put the fridge back in last time (me)


After that, I gave the rest of the habitation wiring a bit of a look at. I hate chocolate blocks in vehicles, but this is how it was done.


It seems OK but I will replace the lot one day.

One thing that bugs me is the mega voltage drop with lights on etc - The whole system runs off the leisure battery which in the passenger side of the engine bay - the switch/fuse unit is above the back doors, so a twin core wire runs the length and width of the vehicle, and for some reason they've run the ground all the way back to the battery, rather than just picking up a ground from the body.

I wasn't about to run a new wire front to back so I just added a new earth and then paralleled the black and red wires and used them both as lives, now I have 1/4 of the voltage drop for free.




Finally I have to get onto the shit MOT work.

Two issues: Brake disks are worn in a very strange way, and the passenger side jacking point/outrigger collapsed when I last used it.

I wanted to farm the welding out - I really don't have anywhere to do it, and got a really decent quote, but money is tight so I've just got to do it myself.

Finally upgraded from the £18 argos trolley jack I bought 18 years ago - It wouldn't lift high enough to get the van off the ground. £69, SGS engineering, 100% recommended.



Here's a flattering photo of "before". It's had bad patches over the years which were 100% cosmetic really, they were technically welded on but were doing nothing to add any kind of structure.



The actual jacking bit itself wasn't bad, so I drilled the spot welds out, picked it off then repaired it on the bench.



but underneath it were horrors:




I've got a nice workshop, but I can't get the van inside - it's in a nice business center type place so really any time spent outside grinding etc is naughty, I have to keep it to evenings and weekends - I've got to do what I can inside to save time outside. So, I made a new outrigger from 1.6mm plate ready to "just weld in"




I've not done that yet though. Next up, brakes!

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I'm in France ATM with friends and after they asked I've been giving them the potted history of this fine vehicle since it's been in your ownership. I'm sure I've said it before but it makes me happy to see it being so well looked after and fettled, nice one cobblers. Good luck with the welding, I feel your pain there!

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Now that I've got the tackle to get it in the air far enough, and I can work on flat ground I'm not that upset about it all really, I was pissing about before working on a hill and it was a nightmare.

 I've bought a 60m 4mm2 extension cable so that I can run the welder right out of the way across the car park, out to the disused corner so I can weld it up without upsetting anyone.

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On to the brakes - they worked fine, but there's been advisories for the past 5 years for grotty front disks so I needed to do something about them. I was very hesitant to go anywhere near them on account of the grottyness, and the dual piston/dual circuit calipers with twice as many pipes, hoses and bleed nipples to snap.



here's the disk, both front inners were the same.



After finding the sliders to be fine, I popped the pistons out of the calipers and they were all fine too, so I reckon it was just from general lack of use.




While they were all in bits I tarted the calipers up, wire wheeled all the scale off them, lobbed them in the ultrasonic cleaner and then put some (shit) silver paint on. 


With the calipers more or less done, I got at the flexy hoses (which really were shit)

I got a £30 induction heater off ebay. It uses magnetism and witchcraft to make brake flexy hoses explode in your face, in less than 20 seconds.


Cracking piece of kit, I got all 4 hoses off without rounding anything which was good going considering the state of all the unions.

Had to put it all back together with the old pads on to get it bled up (I bought the wrong ones)  but it went smoothly, I flushed 2 litres of fluid through the whole system for good measure.



I took it on one last "pre mot" night camping on Friday:



But the mrs's mates and family are coming round tomorrow night so I'm off again. 





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Right, Brakes are done. I planned to spend last weekend welding this bastard up, but for the first time in my entire life, I put a value on my own time, and farmed it out - I could either lay on my back and weld all weekend, or work doing what I'm actually good at, and earn roughly the same money, so I took the easy way out.

The bloke was impressed with my repair panel and says it actually fitted well. He's done a good job. PM me if you need any welding doing near Mansfield, I'll put you onto him,

It passed the MOT this morning with a lash of duct tape on the front arches, so I decided to finally sort out the blowing exhaust manifold which had gone from "quite bad" to "incredibly bad" last week.

These always do it, the manifolds warp and the studs are made of the worst steel know to man so they usually snap with the force of the warping manifold. All of mine were still attached, but even after lashing them with plusgas twice weekly for about 2 months, I snapped 6 of the 8 studs straight away with a 1/4 drive ratchet. Absolute dogshit.





Fucking awful job laid on my back reaching right up, I welded some nuts on to the studs and got all but three of them out.




Really looking forward to trying to drill steel 8mm bolts out of an ally head at arms reach, with an angle drill. I'm sure it'll go well!




Flipping poor show when it takes all that to get an exhaust manifold off.


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Good luck with that manifold cobblers, it won't make you feel any better but it's a common problem.

The disc issue is defo down to light use. Those discs were about a year old when you bought the camper, the advisory that I got for them was a mistake made by to many chiefs at the MOT center, so they've gone like that in about 3 years.

I guess they were originally designed to haul up a heavily laden van driven 'enthusiastically' by a builder with little or no mechanical sympathy.

ETA, loving the 'train' of wheel weights!:-)

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Manifold blowing... TADTS. 

The manifold on mine got really bad last year, if I remember rightly the chap who did mine tilted the engine by disconnecting the lower gearbox mount to gain better access. I was lucky none of my bolts sheared. But with poor access he had to put undersized bolts in. He wasn’t sure it’d last but it did. It’s not perfect, but it does the job well. 

Replacement manifolds seem very tricky to get hold of too... 

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Had the afternoon on this again, I had three studs to drill out.

Now anyone who's tried drilling steel studs out of an aly head knows that it can go very wrong very quickly, if the drill wanders then you've fucked it basically. Since I was on my back, I wasn't even going to attempt it freehand, so I made a drilling jig out of some scrap.

First I scribed round the manifold and used sharpened bolts that fit the holes tightly as DIY transfer punches to properly find the centers.






I drilled all the holes to 4mm, then opened up the corner two to 8mm as these will be used to hold the jig onto the head with two good studs.

The holes were 4mm for now so that I can use a center punch through them to make sure it's lined up perfectly:




Since I can't get my head anywhere near it, I took a photo of each stud to check the marks were bang on, and they were;




Obvously a bit of 3mm plate  isn't going to hold my drill perpendicular, so I welded a few slices of some bar on to give me about an inch of thickness, then opened up the holes to 6mm with a good HSS drill bit on the pillar drill.







A few spacers on the drill bit so I didn't go too deep, 20 minutes of sweating and grunting and I had most of the studs out:


I opened the holes up to 6.5mm and then tried to send an M8 tap down, but it kept catching on some remains of the old stud and the last thing I wanted was to break the tap, so I got the 8.2mm bit from the helicoil kit, opened the jig out and drilled them straight out giving me 8.2mm clean holes.

Tapped them and sent helicoils in no bother




Then I fitted 7 new stainless studs. The top left one is original - I was going to try and remove it, but there's no way I was risking snapping it - the top row of holes are too close to the bulkhead to get the drill in, so I really was lucky to get all those out intact.



On to the manifold - it was warped, but I wasn't about to spend money on getting it machined, so I just lapped it with some emery cloth glued on some MDF.  Here it is after about 2 minutes abuse:



I used a flap wheel on the grinder to take the high spots down and then just got stuck in. I tried some light oil on the emery cloth, I don't think it helped.




All in all I reckon it took about 30 minutes of sanding. I've left it in a bucket overnight electrolytically de-rusting with a phone charger as a power supply, I'll get it on the 2000W bench supply for a while tomorrow to blow the rest of the flakes off.

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23 hours ago, spartacus said:

Good luck with that manifold cobblers, it won't make you feel any better but it's a common problem.

The disc issue is defo down to light use. Those discs were about a year old when you bought the camper, the advisory that I got for them was a mistake made by to many chiefs at the MOT center, so they've gone like that in about 3 years.

I guess they were originally designed to haul up a heavily laden van driven 'enthusiastically' by a builder with little or no mechanical sympathy.

ETA, loving the 'train' of wheel weights!:-)

To be fair those disks didn't look that old other than the knackered inside faces. I drive it regular and the brakes get used hard on my usual drives over massive hills, so hopefully these will last OK. Hows the LDV going?

Yeah even with all those weights it gets a bit wobbly at 60+, I'm going to try some balancing beads in the tyres. 

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LDV is great, although despite the low mileage it's getting ready for a steering box, I was spoilt be the rack and pinion on the Talbot!

Result on the manifold, that jig is a masterpiece of lateral thinking, I reckon I would have taken the head off!

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Finished this off today after ordering some more gaskets because I've got no flipping clue where I put the others. Turned the house and workshop upside down!.

I was quiet today at work so I slung the manifold in the sand blaster, but with my medium/fine media, I couldn't get through the scale, so I gave it up as a bad job after a few minutes.




I did spend another 10 minutes lapping the face flat, excessive really but I might as well while it's off.



I slathered the threads in loctite 9000c anti seize (they're stainless studs so can gall) and put the gaskets on.





Done! Beautiful.

Then I put the shitty old exhaust back on, with the 6th? set of new exhaust rubbers in two years. Admittedly these were only 49P each, but I need to come up with something better.


This exhaust is just about fucked, I've already patched it, welded all the joints etc but it's still blowing and very much on borrowed time. It hangs off the bottom of the van at cockled angles, nothing lines up right and it's just shit. New ones aren't a lot of money, but I have a welder and some some 6" diameter stainless tube, some 60mm diameter stainless tube and bends that I've fished out of skips and peoples scrap bins over the years, so I'm going to make myself a new exhaust totally from scratch including the boxes, I'll only have to buy a few bits of plate for the box ends, some wadding and some perf tube so maybe it'll cost me £50.


The whole thing just dangles underneath the van anyway, so I can be pretty freestyle about what I do - I'll make the boxes up, then just take this system off and copy it on the bench. Obviously it's not going to get straightpiped or owt stupid, it sits at 100% throttle for probably 85% of its driving time so I don't want anything noisy.

I'm also going to swap the tailpipe over on to the passenger side, because as it is all the gases get sucked back into the van through the fridge vents.




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Welcome to why I moved to a side pipe on mine...the original tail pipe at the rear couldn't have been lined up better with the fridge vent if they'd tried.  You had to have the window open pretty much fully to avoid ending up feeling of diesel fumes.

Mine is quite silly in volume terms when she's being worked hard, but it's actually quiet enough at 60-70, and the natural cruising speed is 62mph, so I can live with that.

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8 hours ago, Zelandeth said:

Welcome to why I moved to a side pipe on mine...the original tail pipe at the rear couldn't have been lined up better with the fridge vent if they'd tried.  You had to have the window open pretty much fully to avoid ending up feeling of diesel fumes.

Mine's kind of the opposite - it's fine with all the windows closed, but open any of them and it sucks the fumes in!

Luckily the LHD turbo diesel vans have a 60mm dia exhaust that's basically the same as the one on the van, but with an extended tailpipe that comes out of the other side - there's even the beginnings of a passenger side exhaust mount on the chassis. Thanks to ebay I got the extended crossover tailpipe for £20 posted from Germany, I might not end up using it if I have enough stainless tube to make the whole thing but it'll come in handy one day I'm sure:






It's so much better to drive now that the manifold isn't blowing, it's done it for 2.5 years and I'd just got used to it.  It feels like it pulls slightly better too, but that's probably all in my head.

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    • By strangeangel
      I thought I'd start a thread for this as I'll probably end up asking all sorts of questions, given that this is my first 'proper' Citroën.
      So... the ground clearance lever won't go all the way to the highest setting (all others work), which is bad 'cos the book says I need it to do that in order to check the LHM level. It feels like something's seized, so I don't want to force it. Any ideas for a plan of attack would be much appreciated.
      Next up are the wheels. I now have a set of 205 pepperpots that have just gone off for powder coating & I need to get some tyres for them. The handbook says the car should have 165/70R14s on, the wheels came with 185/65R14 on. Any thoughts about what size I should get please? Cheers.
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