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Zel's Motoring Adventures...Jag, Citroen, Mercs, AC Model 70 & A Sinclair C5...26/10 - Goodies Arrive for the Van


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Somewhat frustrating day here.  Well on the Merc front anyway.

I wanted to have a look at what the journals under the camshaft looked like.  More for the sake of my curiousity and because everything at this stage is an education.

Now this is where I fell into a trap that it sounds like many people working on these engines have.  The only OHC engines with chains I've messed around with had tensioners which were either manually tensioned or ran off oil pressure.  As the camshaft is keyed to the sprocket, provided I didn't let the chain go slack so it could slip at the bottom end it shouldn't be an issue.


Turns out the timing chain tensioner on the M102 engine is near aerospace levels of over-engineered. 

Tensioning method number 1 is an oil pressure actuated plunger as I'm used to. 

Tensioning method number 2 is a spring based setup as a backup and to ensure it doesn't go slack when the engine isn't running.

What's caught me out is number 3.  There's also a ratchet mechanism which means that the tensioner can add tension to the chain as it wears, but there's no way for it to go the other way...the only way to reset the thing to take tension off is to completely dismantle the tensioner.  Which involves quite a bit of faff.

So I've now managed to move the car from "sick" to "non runner."

I did have the sprocket tied up, but apparently I gave enough slack that it now won't go back on.


I have read up on how the tensioner works, but working through such a small gap looks like a right pain.  Hopefully I can get back to where we started out again tomorrow.

Oh, the camshaft bearing journals are scored to hell, exactly as expected.


The transparency film I'd been waiting for to sort the dash on the BX arrived.

Thankfully because I was working on a scan I had taken I knew the dimensions would be right when I printed it.  Didn't look too bad at first glance.


Though precisely as I expected opacity was clearly going to be a problem.


I had expected this, so the solution was to print two layers which were just the colour filters, one that's just the frame mask and a final one with the legends and again the frame on it.

As shown by the initial print from the other side that worked much better.


Just holding them together by hand there, hence the registration errors.

With everything back into the panel it looks far better than the blotchy, faded original ones.



It's really hard to get an accurate photo of how it looks, but this is vaguely close.


Colours are far more saturated in person.  There is more of a hot spot than with the original filters but it's perfectly reasonable.

The fact that I've got enough opacity is shown by the lack of bleed through on the left hand lamp unit.  This is vastly overexposed because I was looking for evidence of light shining through where it shouldn't be.


In reality this looks more like this.


Might get that dropped back in tomorrow.  LED illumination hasn't been done yet, but I've enough projects going on right now so could do with it back in the car!


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  • Zelandeth changed the title to Zel's Motoring Adventures...Jag, Citroen, Mercs, AC Model 70 & A Sinclair C5...23/09 - BX Dash Repair Progress, Merc Blunders...

Well I've found the break in the BX speedometer drive.


That little bit of plastic should be attached to the end of the lower cable.  So unless I can come up with a bodge I'll be needing a new lower cable.

The dash is back together now though.  Looks far less scruffy.







All seems to be behaving itself.




I really had not appreciated quite how big a visual impact just repainting the pointer on the speedometer would make.


I've decided to take a step away from the Merc for a few days as I was just getting frustrated with it today. 

Have discovered that to get the timing chain tensioner out (because I need to take it out and dismantle it to reset it so I can reattach the sprocket to the camshaft) I first need to remove the alternator.  Of course one of the mounting bolts is just spinning and I couldn't find the right size spanner to lock it in place.  I'd already spent half an hour chasing tools around by that point and getting clocked on the head by the bootlid didn't help. 

I'll get back to it after the weekend.


Edit: Updated BX dash photos now it's dark.


Far better.  No more blotchy mess around here.


The slight bleed through on the right is actually just due to the frosted surface on the plastic light guide rather than light getting through the backing.

Before photo for reference.


I've not been able to sort the clock yet so have just disabled it... having it show 0:00 every time the ignition was on was more annoying than it just not working.  I'll get to that at some point in the future.

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1 hour ago, dozeydustman said:

That’s an excellent job on the dash refurb! Well done that man.

Thanks for the compliment.  I quite enjoyed this little project really.  The dash in an earlier BX is such a nice looking design it just needed to look...well...not broken.

I know the lights are a bit less diffused than they originally were...I could fix that but honestly prefer this look myself.  It means the amber lights are a bit brighter - and given that includes the overheat and oil level warnings that's a good thing I reckon.

Still find it interesting that the handbrake light on this dash is amber rather than red.  Leyland Atlantean and Olympians are the only other vehicles I've driven where that's the case. 

Photos below...yes I find instrument panel design fascinating so notice things like that.




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Why do I do this to myself?

I'm currently two cars above capacity, and three out of the five are broken/have issues.

[] Jag: Intermittent charging fault.  I keep putting off fixing it...because Jaguar.  I know I'll remove the alternator and somehow that will break the rear suspension or something like that... It's also technically sold, though the new keeper doesn't move into their new house until mid November, at which point they'll have room to take it on.

[] BX: Hasn't been on the road for at least 11 years.  It's getting closer to an MOT, but still needs a fair bit of work done.

[] Merc: Currently lacking a camshaft because it's eaten it and the camshaft has then proceeded to eat it's way through the head.

This leaves me with the van and the Invacar.  Neither of which are exactly the most practical all purpose daily transport! 

So why the hell was I out looking at another car today?

As far as I can tell it's basically because I'm an idiot.  That and because people insist on putting things I have fond memories of up for sale.

Of course this went predictably and I've basically decided that it needs to be mine.  Which means I need to make space for it. 

My current thinking is that it will probably be the the Merc.  Much though it is a nice way to waft around, getting it tidied up to a point I'll really be happy with it is going to cost a small fortune.  I knew going in that trim and the like was expensive for these cars, but I guess I hadn't appreciated quite *how* expensive.  Which is probably partly my own fault...last time I'd really looked was probably over ten years ago when I was helping a friend back up north with the odd job on theirs...and it was a saloon, for which things are generally easier to find.

Current plan I think is to swap the cylinder head over (I'm already half way to having it off, may as well at this stage) and see if that resolves the issues I've been having.  If it does, excellent.  If not, at least I've tried and I can give a more definitive diagnosis than "it *might* need a new engine." Will all have been an interesting learning experience anyway, whatever the outcome.

The BX is a little bit of an unknown as I've yet to drive it more than fifty feet.  However it is such a comfy thing that I can see myself very much liking it.  We should be *relatively* close to at least being able to throw it in for an MOT and see how long a fail list we end up with.  A lot of people on here have put a lot of work into saving this car so I would really like to justify those efforts by getting it back actually onto the road.

Obviously neither the van nor Invacar are going anywhere.  Despite the market meaning that it would be a good time to sell the van if I were being strictly sensible about it.

Being sensible I definitely wouldn't be looking at possible project cars either.

Like this one.


I made a very specific point of *not* looking too closely at this car when I was over there a month or so back as I knew I'd be drawn to it and end up asking "how much?"

Then it popped up in the classifieds. 

So I went to have a look.

Overall observation... basically that for a 70s Vauxhall it is astonishingly solid.








There are a couple of bits of rust though, would be incredible if there weren't.

The first I found was the inner sill just ahead of the offside rear wheel.


Sorry, not the best photo as I was taking it blind.

Oddly the *nearside* which is the side I usually expect to be rustier is solid there.


That'll be fun to weld up from underneath the car with spatter going in my ear.

The other bit I immediately spotted was on the nearside front chassis leg.  There was a repair  done there for the last MOT the car had, but being 10 years ago it's really in need of cutting out and doing properly as it looks like the rust has got into the seam.


On the plus side, the whole area feels solid and for a change access looks to be fine.  Only thing that needs to be moved out the way is the wheel and one plastic fuel line.


I was kind of braced for the whole area going "scrunch" when I poked it but it didn't.

The other one is a bit of a potential can of worms - sill covers can hide all sort of sins.


This one looks to have separated a little at the rear.


However the sill wasn't crunchy behind it, so hoping a localised repair will be all that's needed.  It's likely a vain hope...but I'm going to hold on to it for now!

No horrors hiding in the door shuts.




Apparently I totally forgot to take a wider angle photo of the nearside rear.

The nearside rear is probably the worst of the arches.  Might need some TLC on the leading edge at the bottom.



Rest are all in good shape.



Inner wings are in really good shape under the bonnet.



The battery tray has a couple of tiny pin holes in, but that's something even I should be able to patch up.


Unlike a lot of cars I won't need to dismantle the entire interior to sort that.

The bonnet needs drowning in Vactan and Dinitrol to catch it but it's not rusted through anywhere.


The interior is in really good shape, the seats just needing a deep clean.





The choke cable hanging out of the dash is because of the currently fitted carb having an automatic choke.


I do like that dash. 

Someone in the past has cut holes in the parcel shelf for a set of 6x9 speakers... though to be honest that's fine by me as it makes me feel fine about installing some.

Only had it running for a couple of minutes before we ran out of fuel, but she started up without any complaints and sounded really smooth albeit a bit tappety - though if I'm remembering right that tended to be the case with these engines anyway.  I know the previous previous keeper had been chasing around a running issue for quite a long while, but we don't know if it was ever resolved... hasn't presented itself so far though.  Kinda hoping they did as they were quite an expert in the field I believe and it was giving them a right runaround.

So... banking on needing the following in addition to the aforementioned welding and a good service.

[] Tyres.  They're all 10+ years old and one has a huge bulge in the sidewall.

[] Brake calipers.  One of them is known to be seized, don't imagine either are going to be in great shape.

[] Brake discs.  In addition to being rusty they've both got quite a big lip on.

[] All fuel lines.

[] Battery...I stole one from one of my cars for the test today.

[] Rear silencer.  It's missing.

The paintwork is very, very thin throughout.  It's not hard to see why these cars tended to rust badly basically everywhere when they were ten years or so old in their day.


Given this and the dents and scrapes which have happened while the car's been in storage bodywork tidying is going to be an ongoing job for a while.  Worst looking issues there are the nearside doors, though I reckon with the right leverage (or one of those fancy air bag panel jacks) they would at least mostly pop out.


Is this even vaguely sensible?  No.  Do I care?  Not really.  It's a car I never would have expected a chance at...and it's local which makes life a lot less difficult compared to quite a few cars I've bought over the years.

Also, you only live once.  Following your heart rather than your head now and then is okay.


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  • Zelandeth changed the title to Zel's Motoring Adventures...Jag, Citroen, Mercs, AC Model 70 & A Sinclair C5...25/09 - Cavalier Decisions...

I bet that will be a great car once you have finished with it. I love a mk1 cavalier, have very fond memories of the one I had back in the day. However it was a 2.0 gls sportshatch and probably any lesser one would break the rose tinted glasses!

Sent from my SM-T585 using Tapatalk

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On 9/26/2021 at 9:41 AM, Daviemck2006 said:

I bet that will be a great car once you have finished with it. I love a mk1 cavalier, have very fond memories of the one I had back in the day. However it was a 2.0 gls sportshatch and probably any lesser one would break the rose tinted glasses!

Sent from my SM-T585 using Tapatalk

I'm looking forward to getting stuck into it to be honest.  It's a simple car really so shouldn't hold too many surprises during the recommissioning process.  Just hoping parts aren't going to turn out to be a complete PITA to get hold of.  I should really make a start on that.  Brake calipers, discs and a rear silencer should probably be first on the list.  Oh, and tyres.

Today's errands were conducted by TPA on account of the availability (or rather the lack thereof) of fuel.  I had a gallon in the shed originally for the mower, which of course amounts to nearly a quarter of a tank in that car.

Been a while since I got any new photos of her, so grabbed a few while we were out.





Guessing she will be out and about quite a bit this week.

I've picked up a set of Torx bits today so should be able to continue with the process of getting the head off the Merc.  I've basically decided there that I'm going to go ahead and swap the spare head onto it.  It's a pretty simple job given how good access is in this engine bay.  The only headache I can forsee is if the exhaust manifold studs decide to play silly buggers.

If that improves our oil pressure when warm and it stays that way hopefully we can call it good.  If the issue is with the bottom end it should be pretty obvious as it will continue to drop off and the glitter in the oil will just come straight back. 


Edited by Zelandeth
correcting autocorrect
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I am very pleased to hear that you will hopefully be getting cavalier :) as I said elsewhere, I never really thought much of them until I saw now hopefully your one at the the FoD and thought "ooh thats quite nice actually" so I am pleased to hear its going to you, as I know your one of the best homes a car can find itself in! and it means it stays relatively local so I will continue to get a chance at admiring it, maybe even taking it for a drive someday :) 

also nice to see TPA out and about some more, how long until you hit 3K miles with her? wont be too long before you catch up with @dollywobbler! :) 

its interesting to note that the Drivers handbook for the Model 70 notes that the best fuel economy happens at 40Mph, I wonder given you already get 40Mpg out of TPA, what she would do when not having to be driven at 60Mph for MK's road layout, I wonder if you could get 50MPG or even more out of her? that would be quite impressive for a 1970's Automatic! 


this all reminds me of when  there are tube (London Underground) strikes here in London, most complain but im like "ooh yay tube strike" as that means all the Routemasters and RT's and other vintage London buses get to called apon to provide extra bus capacity 

so if this fuel shortage means all the Invacars get to come out and play im not going to complain :mrgreen:

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I'm really looking forward to it.  Absolutely wasn't planned and wasn't even a car which was really.on my radar.  I always liked them but had never really looked seriously at buying one.

Sitting in it though just felt like slipping into your favourite comfy old pair of slippers.  I've not had that effect when getting in a car to quite that extent in a long time, probably the Saab was the last one.  Thout that was a bit different as I already knew full well what to expect given it was the third one I'd owned and one of probably a dozen I've driven.  If I ever do end up with some proper storage one day you can absolutely count on there being a Saab 900 in there by the way.

I just hope we don't run into the same running issue the previous keeper did back in 2007 as that was causing them a bunch of headaches and they were properly experts on Vauxhalls of this era...I had never even opened the bonnet of one until I looked at this one.

Two Vauxhalls in my past, but nothing from this era.  There was a 1993 Corsa 1.5TD which was a cracking little car actually which well exceeded my expectations, and a really bashed up Nova which was a farm road toy before I had my license.

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7 hours ago, Zelandeth said:

Two Vauxhalls in my past, but nothing from this era.  There was a 1993 Corsa 1.5TD which was a cracking little car actually which well exceeded my expectations, and a really bashed up Nova which was a farm road toy before I had my license.

In 1993 I was selling Vauxhalls and the Corsa Turbo Diesel was a delight to drive. I also like the looks of the early 3 doors very much and in particular the way the bonnet scoops around the headlights.

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8 hours ago, Six-cylinder said:

In 1993 I was selling Vauxhalls and the Corsa Turbo Diesel was a delight to drive. I also like the looks of the early 3 doors very much and in particular the way the bonnet scoops around the headlights.

I really liked it.  I found the extra weight of the diesel up front actually really helped the car as it made it feel much more solid.  I remember the couple of petrol ones I drove feeling quite flimsy compared to the Nova. 

Had hoped to be making a start on stripping the head off the Merc about now.



Weather apparently has other ideas.  There's about an inch of water in the garage again too.  What fun.

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On 9/28/2021 at 4:20 PM, Zelandeth said:

I really liked it.  I found the extra weight of the diesel up front actually really helped the car as it made it feel much more solid.  I remember the couple of petrol ones I drove feeling quite flimsy compared to the Nova. 

Had hoped to be making a start on stripping the head off the Merc about now.



Weather apparently has other ideas.  There's about an inch of water in the garage again too.  What fun.

Calendar shot?

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Back at it this afternoon.

Step 1 I decided was to label the handful of wiring connectors which would need to be removed.  Have to admit this is one of the reasons I love K-Jet injection systems...so simple electronically.


IAC valve is hiding just out of shot above the frame.

Checking it with a straight edge the spare head appears to be flat.  Once it's had a good clean I'll inspect it closely for any signs of damage.  Being used to relatively tiny OHV engines those valves look positively huge.


I'll be transferring my inlet manifold complete with fuel distributor over, but I'll be removing it from the head off the car.  Both as the inlet manifold will give me something to get hold of to help lift it and because a couple of the retaining bolts are a real pig to get to with it in the car.

Definitely want to use mine though.  Assure from it being filthy it looks like the plastic housing on the fuel metering head has started to fail on the spare.


A vacuum leak there could cause absolute merry hell with regards to fuelling.

Let the strip down commence...


A huge surprise arrived midway through this when I went to tackle the part of the whole job I have been dreading the most.  Removing the exhaust manifold.

I have never had to remove one on a car which has not been an absolutely horrible war of a job.


Right up until today.  This just unbolted from the head without any drama whatsoever.  Okay, was a 50/50 mix of the nuts unscrewing and the studs winding out of the head but that's irrelevant as far as I'm concerned.  I have never known a manifold come off that easy.  Ever.

So...this brings us up to here:

[] Rocker cover, camshaft carriers/rocker assemblies and camshaft removed.

[] Exhaust manifold clear of head.

[] Coolant drained (block drain is hidden behind exhaust manifold, hence choosing that sequence).  Oil had already been drained before we started.

[] Throttle cable and gearbox kickdown cables disconnected.

[] Various electrical connectors disconnected and de-threaded from the vacuum pipework they wound their way through before.

[] Vacuum line to brake servo disconnected at manifold end.

[] Engine earth strap disconnected from inlet manifold.

[] Fuel flow and return lines disconnected and moved clear (after discovering the hidden 10mm bolt holding them to the fuel distributor.

[] Disconnected heater hose from rear of head.

[] Removed half a dozen small bore vacuum lines, not forgetting the near invisible one to the gearbox.

[] Unbolted the thermostat housing from the front of the head.

[] Removed the top alternator mounting bolt.

[] Removed head bolts ( including the sneaky ones right at the front and the *really* sneaky one over by the warm up regulator masquerading as a plugged coolant sensor hole.

Yeah...to put into perspective how filthy this head is, this is how much gunk I had to scoop out of the head bolt heads before I could get the bit into them properly.


That is probably the best part of 1 X 2 cm.

After a certain amount of swearing we got to the point where the head has split from the block.


However I haven't so far been able to get it to separate around the full perimeter.  I've also realised that due to the design of the timing chain tensioner that I need to faff around with that first before I can fully remove the head.  The tensioner has a pin which passes through the middle of the loop of the chain...so either than pin needs to come out or the chain needs to be split.  Apparently the inner of this pin however is threaded so you can wind a bolt into it and then pull it out of the head... we'll see if that's true tomorrow.

Kinda feels like a failure that I didn't get the head fully out today, I had really hoped to.  We're about 95% of the way there though.

I can't start rebuilding things yet anyway as I'm still waiting on the head and inlet manifold gaskets (exhaust ones are of a type which should be fine to reuse) to arrive.  Depending on what the weather is up to tomorrow we'll hopefully either get the whole head off the car or start stripping down and cleaning the spare one.

I'm telling myself to stop being bloody lazy and lap the valves in, though I can't for the life of me tell you where my valve spring compressor is...

It's a bit of a strange engine to work on...a lot of it is really well thought out and easy, but every now and then there are just a few bits which are seemingly needlessly complicated or awkward.  The non-resettable timing chain tensioner and chain guide you need to use a puller/slide hammer to remove from the head immediately spring to mind.

Hopefully we'll have good progress to report tomorrow.

Of course just to add to the fun the heavens decided to open just as I was tidying up.


I have checked the measurements of the head bolts and they're all well within spec so should be fine to be reused.


Just need a really good clean as like everything, they're covered in sticky black tar.

As is now about 3/4 of my toolkit, the garage door, my hair and the side of the van.


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  • Zelandeth changed the title to Zel's Motoring Adventures...Jag, Citroen, Mercs, AC Model 70 & A Sinclair C5...29/09 - Merc Head Removal Nearly Complete...
1 minute ago, Minimad5 said:

Did you drop the sump on the Mercedes & look at the shells ?

If you give up and want to sell it, do let me know, granted I'll have to sell something first, but I'd be delighted to see this old girl back on the road.

AFAIK the subframe obstructed the sump too much.

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Regarding that pin, if its the same as the one on my old 190E, I welded a washer to a bolt, screwed it into the pin and then withdrew it using a slide hammer hooked onto the washer.

Took a fair few blows of the slide hammer but once moving, it came out fine.




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Well so much for...well everything since lunchtime on Thursday I think it was.

The rest of my week and Saturday up until about an hour ago instead of getting anything I wanted done, instead was spent in the kitchen.  Cleaning, removing, storing then cleaning where things had come from.  All this to deal with an infestation of grain mites.

Oh...my...god...I hurt in places I didn't know I had, my hands are shredded and I hope I never have to smell vinegar ever again.  I think we've pretty much got rid of the little buggers, but only time will tell at this point.

...Then I have to put everything back in again!  Though at least that shouldn't take half as long as it's not going to involve cleaning everything the moment I pick it up.

I really hope to never see these things again.  Ever.

These things...the little specs of dust on this storage box.


They're not specs of dust.  I know that because if you watched you could see they were very slowly moving.  There were several times more of them hidden behind the coffee maker.  I'd originally thought they were just dust and that I really needed to clean the kitchen...right up to the point where I went to move the first thing to clean and found many times more of them behind it.

Not.  Fun.

So *hopefully* I can actually get back to doing something useful tomorrow or Monday.  Which would be nice.  I'm kinda hacked off at having lost three days to this mess.  Had hoped to be putting things back together on the Merc by this point.  Oh...well...aside from the fact that the sodding head gasket set hasn't turned up yet.  Apparently it's stuck in customs judging from the parcel tracking.

Just to add to the fun the leisure battery on the van appears to have packed in given it was showing under 9V despite having been charged only a couple of days ago.  That'll be cheap to replace I'm sure...110Ah capacity if I remember right. 

Oh, and water is peeing in somewhere in the upper offside rear corner.  Right where I sorted last year.  Blarg.  That's probably just getting silicone sealant thrown at it along the edging strip for now as I simply don't have time to go pulling the coachwork apart right now (nor dealing with the can of worms that is opening) and we can fully investigate and do a more permanent fix in the spring.

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  • Zelandeth changed the title to Zel's Motoring Adventures...Jag, Citroen, Mercs, AC Model 70 & A Sinclair C5...02/10 - Pest Control Interrupts Progress...
On 9/29/2021 at 9:02 PM, Minimad5 said:

Did you drop the sump on the Mercedes & look at the shells ?

If you give up and want to sell it, do let me know, granted I'll have to sell something first, but I'd be delighted to see this old girl back on the road.

My intention is to get it back into a mobile condition then it will probably be up for sale.  It's not a bad car overall but getting it to a tidy enough state I'd really be happy with it is just going to be too expensive a journey I think.  While mechanical parts seem by and large to be readily available for not horrendous money, the same can't be said of silly little bits and pieces.

Still peeved that one of the reproduction tail lights arrived smashed.  Seller immediately apologised and said they'd send out a replacement...and then went totally quiet and hasn't responded to any requests for updates since.  Head gasket set was coming from Germany too as a specialist there seemed to have the best deal I could find on a full name brand gasket set...and that's been stuck in customs since the middle of the week.

Plus if I'm honest psychologically I've gone off it a bit.  I was expecting to need to do quite a bit of tidying up, but aside from potentially a brake refresh, a damned good service and the obligatory sorting of an exhaust leak (which seems to be a common theme to ANY car I ever buy) I'd hoped the oily bits wouldn't need too much done to them.  Whereas here I am now pulling the head off it.  First time I've ever had an OHC head off myself too so very much praying it goes back together again!

It's not a bad car at all for what I paid for it when you look at the silly prices a lot of S123s go for, but just goes to highlight to me I guess that I just set my expectations a bit too high. 

Plus I need to make room for the Cavalier.  Then figure out where the heck to find the time to sort that!  Oh, and actually track down the LHM leak on the BX and get that in for an MOT.  And sort the alternator on the Jag so it's ready for driving to its new home (hopefully) next month.

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On 28/09/2021 at 16:20, Zelandeth said:

I really liked it.  I found the extra weight of the diesel up front actually really helped the car as it made it feel much more solid.  I remember the couple of petrol ones I drove feeling quite flimsy compared to the Nova. 

Had hoped to be making a start on stripping the head off the Merc about now.



Weather apparently has other ideas.  There's about an inch of water in the garage again too.  What fun.

what you need there is the camper to have an awning and being parked nose in!

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30 minutes ago, Noel Tidybeard said:

what you need there is the camper to have an awning and being parked nose in!

We do have one...


Sadly given the magnitude of that downpour I'd have been standing in about 3" of water...

I have used it as a sun shade during the summer though.

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Well it's starting to look like a kitchen again.


A horribly poorly paid out kitchen with the most annoying cupboard doors known to mankind (aside from the one which fell off about four years ago), but a kitchen nevertheless.

The leisure battery in the van has had the water topped up and was left on charge overnight.  After it was left sitting for a couple of hours disconnected from everything...


Nope...that be dead.  Looks like we've lost a cell.

Also have confirmed we've had water getting in...and predictably in camper fashion obviously have had for a while before I noticed.  Fact the van has had very little use over the last couple of years definitely hasn't helped.


Can see where it's been getting into the locker above.


Ignore the actual hole in the chipboard... that's from me having to do destructive digging to find the wiring to the front cab marker lights that had been chopped off in the past...as Autotrail for some reason thought running the front cab markers from the tail light circuit - from the offside tail light - made sense.

The water mark is new though.  This is actually useful though as it shows me the water has been getting in at the rear around that corner at the top.

Left it with the lockers in that area open with the heater set to 25C for most of the day after drowning the whole corner in an anti fungal spray.  The rest of the van will be getting the same treatment and then vacuumed.  I likely will be staying in this thing for a few days in the near future so minimising the amount of fungal spores I'm breathing would be nice!

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After one of the busiest weeks I can remember (despite not actually having anything tangible to show for it!) I think I might actually have a chance to look in the direction of the cars again tomorrow.  Task number 1 is probably going to be a temporary bodge to try to stop (as much as possible) water getting into the van, as the longer that's going on the worse the damage is going to be.  I'm not pulling the bodywork seam apart until the spring as that will probably be several days worth of work to sort out and reduces the weatherproofing from "broken" to "none" and I really don't need any more vehicles immobilised right now.

My head gasket set has arrived back with the sender and the order has been cancelled and refunded.  Apparently the last four orders they've sent to UK addresses have been sent back from customs despite all the paperwork being in order as far as they're aware - those items ranging from a single indicator repeater lens to about a grand's worth of gearbox parts.  No explanation given...They're just "rejected" and returned to the sender.  Great.

I'll see if my usual factor can get the essentials in (haven't had a chance to call in there to check yet).  Merc themselves do show them as a current item but they're currently on backorder with no expected stock date.  Apparently according to the guy on the parts desk that's true of about 70% of the part requests they're getting in at the moment for vehicles of all ages.  They've had to send out several new vehicles recently without floor mats because they can't get any!  You couldn't make it up!  If Motorserv can't get one in in a couple of days I'll just take a punt on a random eBay seller and order one that way.  I've just been stung so many times that way with incorrect or parts that are so poor quality as to be useless going down that road the last few years I really try to avoid it where possible.

A couple of days ago I lost one of the chrome tips of the exhausts on the Jag.  I was always kind of worried about that happening as the fit was never stellar.  With them removed however the exhaust note is *far* more appealing...and is basically exactly the right blend of refined, but with a nice burble - Hard to describe really, but the best thing I can say right now, is that it "sounds like a Jag" really...rather than just being too damned quiet or just obnoxious as it was when I deleted the rear silencers entirely.  I do need a tip of some description on there though or fumes get drawn into the cabin through the boot when the windows are open...I might experiment with something a little bigger than I did before purely for the acoustic aspect.  Plus come up with a more robust mounting arrangement.  A friend reckons that they have an alternator sitting in their garage still from back when they had an XJ-S a good few years back so are going to send that over to me...if it's the same as mine that will hopefully be an end to the charging issue.

Beyond trying to get the van water tight though my first task really needs to be...exciting though it isn't...washing everything.  The tree (not the now gone pine tree...the other one) next to the drive has made a godawful mess over the last month or two and the BX in particular is looking horribly sad again.


The van honestly isn't much better.

Given how much grumbling we get from a couple of our neighbours I want to address this before it gets any worse...Doesn't do the paint any favours either. 

If I get time beyond that I'll see if I can get the guide pin for the timing chain tensioner out of the S123 as that *should* be the last thing I need to do to actually get the head off aside from a bit of swearing and trying to physically lift it off without breaking myself.  Not that I can do anything about the *reconstruction* there yet given the whole lacking a head gasket issue...

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@Zelandeth you know that resistively ballasted fluorescent fixture you found? that we all thought might be an Osram GEC item?

turns out that yes Osram GEC indeed did make a competitor to the Mazda netaline (and Atlas Kitchen light for that matter), I was not losing the plot there as I have just managed to unearth this advertisement :) 


but it clearly looks somewhat different to the fixture you have! so now im back to square one wondering just what you have is!

(I bet in the end it will turn out to be something from woolworths or something back in the day!)

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This afternoon has been frustrating.

On the plus side, Motorserv reckon I should have a head gasket and inlet manifold gasket ready to collect tomorrow.

Fat lot of good it will do me though as the bloody head is still attached to the car.

I've just wasted the best part of two hours trying to get the pin that holds the timing chain guide out.

This pin, which is helpfully drilled and tapped with an M6 thread.


Should in theory just pull out, using a nut and bolt as an improvised puller seems to be a popular method.


Yeah...even using the best quality M6 nut and bolt I could find (the ones in the photo were purely to show how things fit together) just ended up mangling the threads on the bolt in one case and shearing off in another.

Basically I need to resort to a slide hammer.  Unsurprisingly given this engine's history it's well glued in place.  Unfortunately there's not enough space to get in with one.


So to get in there I'll need to pull out the radiator.  Which means I need to disconnect the very crusty looking transmission fluid lines (the oil cooler is integrated into the bottom radiator tank).  Oh, and I need to buy a slide hammer as I don't own one.

...Or just buy a new timing chain which comes with a split link...oh...but then I'd need to get the whole timing cover off.  To get that off you need to remove the sump...which we've already found is a non trivial process.  Bugger...guess we keep swearing at this then.

In case there was any doubt the head had to come off...




Yep... that's had it!

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  • Zelandeth changed the title to Zel's Motoring Adventures...Jag, Citroen, Mercs, AC Model 70 & A Sinclair C5...08/10 - How Hard Can Pulling Out A Pin Be?

Having left the timing chain guide pins stewing in Plusgas for a few days I went back for another shot today. Armed with a few high tensile bolts and an assortment of spacers I figured this was the last chance saloon before I get more tools involved and strip things down further.  After far more torque than I would have liked was applied, the pin started to move with a terrifyingly loud crack.


It was tight all the way out (as expected given it's purely a friction fit), but didn't require stupid amounts of force once it was moving. One removed pin. 


At this point I figured I would be able to withdraw the chain tensioner. Err... apparently not.  A quick consultation with the spare head showed there were actually TWO of these pins. I'd missed this one entirely. 


Partly because I'd just unbolted the thermostat housing from the head and left it otherwise in situ, partly because...well...would you have spotted it under all that slime? 


About 3/4 of a can of carb cleaner and some scrubbing later...hey look, there it is!


Same process as before...another pin out. 


Which *finally* allowed me to get the chain guide out.  It defied all attempts to usefully photograph it, but there's hardly any visible wear on this, I'd not be surprised if it's been replaced at some point.


Before pulling that out (which would let the chain go slack) I put a cable tie on it to maintain enough tension to hopefully keep the timing where it should be. I'll obviously rotate things to cyl 1 TDC and check everything anyway before we try to start the engine...but I figure minimising the opportunities for things to move in the meantime can only be a good thing. 

Then the swearing really started...as this was when I started to try in earnest to get the head off. Naturally I eventually found a couple of things I'd missed.  The first of these didn't take me long to spot. As well as being secured to one of the rocker cover studs, the transmission fluid dipstick is bolted to the back of the head.


Yes, that is a crowbar wedged in an exhaust port being used to lift the head... knowing it's scrap metal meant I was a bit less careful of damaging it than I otherwise would have been!  The ones which took me FAR longer to find than they should have though we're the two bolts which attach the inlet manifold to a brace underneath it.



My opinion of these bolts by that point in the afternoon:


Once they were out it just lifted off. Well...nearly. it resisted for a moment before I heard something ping off, whizz over my shoulder and bounce off the side of the van. 

Oops...I also missed the throttle return spring.


Guess I'll need a new one of those then. Though if that's the only casualty, I'll take it!  Finally it's off the car. 





It's worth noting that the head was initially cracked from the block about a week ago, so I was expecting a bit of water contamination to be present in the cylinders, and I think that's why the carbon that was present has sort of peeled away. Quite a bit of carb cleaner probably found its way in while I was blasting crud off the outside too. 


After a bit of a wipe down news isn't looking bad. Cross hatching is still clearly visible on the walls of all cylinders. 


Excuse the bit of dog hair masquerading as a scratch.

I originally thought that was a huge wear ridge at the top...but given the presence of the hone marks I think it's just how this was originally machined.  This is the worst looking bore by a long shot. 


The vast majority of that is above the swept area of the rings, but I'll see if we can clean it up a bit before putting things back together. Looking at the head gasket itself it looks like we might have just been seeing the very early stages of failure between the water jacket and cylinder on the rearmost one - which would tie in with the appearance of moisture having spent time in that bore.  Looking more closely at the head, it's astonishing that there's really no visible difference between number 3 which has had vastly impaired breathing compared to the rest!


I'm no expert, nor do I play one on TV (or even YouTube), but my gut feeling is that this head hasn't been off before.  Hopefully I should have a new head and inlet manifold gasket set waiting for me tomorrow. That will allow me to swap all the known good injection hardware over to the spare head. Given I know it's working fine I just don't see any reason to disturb it more than necessary ...just transferring the whole manifold with it all attached seems the least likely to introduce gremlins.  Then it will be a matter of lots and lots of cleaning of both the head and the block before we start putting things back together. Then praying it's solved our issues!  In reality this head is about as easy to pull as they get in OHC form...the only reason it's taken me a while to get to this stage is lack of knowledge of this particular engine. If I needed to pull it off again in the future I could do it in half the time.  Yes if I'd read the manual beforehand I'd probably have done it quicker, but I'd not have learned half as much. The one thing I did look up though was the correct sequence for tightening/loosening the head bolts. Good thing as I'd otherwise never have spotted that sneaky one by the warm up regulator.  Before I shut up shop today I made sure to absolutely mist everything (especially the bores) with oil, so no further surface rust can think about forming on things. 


Hopefully you'll soon see me putting that mess back together...Taking bets now on how many bits are left over...  Goes without saying I'll be doing the rebuild more by-the-book though as I don't want to damage the replacement head, whereas the one I was taking off was scrap metal.


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  • Zelandeth changed the title to Zel's Motoring Adventures...Jag, Citroen, Mercs, AC Model 70 & A Sinclair C5...10/10 - The Head is Off!

Let's do a quick side by side comparison of the new and old camshaft journals...

From the front...
















Think it's fair to say the new one is a bit healthier.  Rear coolant line elbow is rather crusty on the old head too.


Thankfully the new one is in better shape.


After a bit of deliberation I decided to leave the inlet manifold gasket alone and just swap the fuel distributor over.  Not a big job really, only took about an hour to transfer everything over from one head to the other.


Including a seriously overcomplicated throttle linkage.


Next steps:

[] Remove and reset timing chain tensioner.

[] Remove the remaining studs which are trapped in the exhaust manifold so they match what's present/missing on the new head.

[] Rotate engine to cyl 1 TDC so I can set the timing properly, reset distributor as necessary.

[] Clean up block and head surfaces.

[] Reassemble.

[] Flush sump out with copious amounts of diesel to get as much gunk out from there as possible.

[] Pray I've made things better than worse!

Feels like we're making progress at least...

I do at least have a head gasket in my hand now.


In other news...well there isn't any really!  Just business as usual.


Hopefully we'll manage to keep up a bit of momentum on getting the Merc back together.


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  • Zelandeth changed the title to Zel's Motoring Adventures...Jag, Citroen, Mercs, AC Model 70 & A Sinclair C5...26/10 - Goodies Arrive for the Van

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