Wednesday, 29 February 2012

February 29th. Steering issues finally resolved!

Well I managed to collect my reconditioned steering rack today and rushed home from work in order to fit it. I had already removed the old one from the car last night, so the job was half done already.
I took my time and made sure I didn't miss anything and after checking everything over, the reservoir was filled with fluid and the process of bleeding began. In no time at all the all the bubbles were out of the system and a test drive revealed that all was well. In fact the steering was smooth, but tight and felt the best it ever has, so it was worth the expense of getting it done.
I haven't put any pics up because it would only be another one of a steering rack (albeit a clean and shiny one) and I'm sure that like me, you've seen enough of them by now!
The MOT  for this car is booked for Monday and at present, it shouldn't have any problems.

The next job on the agenda is the slightly leaky clutch slave cylinder on Gertie. It's not too much of a problem if you keep an eye on the level in the reservoir, but I want to get it seen to before Doug Foreman and I take to foreign shores in a few weeks time for a night rally in Holland. I really don't fancy finding myself with no clutch by the side of an autoroute somewhere!

Tuesday, 28 February 2012

February 18th to present! Steering issues!

Before I start on my novel on my power steering issues, I will cover the oil leak issue as mentioned in my last post. I discovered the oil leak the same afternoon I collected my newly rebuilt engine from Benfleet. It was quite a large oil leak and I was lucky to make it home before the engine dried up and siezed.
On the A130 from Saddlers farm near Benfleet, there's a fair bit of roadworks in progress. On the way home that day, I was following a tipper lorry when a piece of debris bounced out of his back wheels and up off of the tarmac and towards the front of my car. I managed to brake enough for it to have lost a lot of its 'bounce' and it went underneath me hitting what I thought was either a floor pan or suspension part. However, said piece of debris was sharp enough, and hard enough to puncture the bloody oil filter and nearly empty my engine of Valvoline 20/50!  On  further inspection, the oil filter had a huge dent in it and had been neatly holed. At least the nearside underneath of my car will never go rusty now! And it enforced an oil and filter change earlier than I'd planned.

Now to my saga with the steering. Are you sitting comfortably?........ 

With the impending MOT on my Mk2 estate, I decided to investigate the small amount of play in the steering that had been listed as an advisory for the past two years. It wasn't that bad, but I didn't think I'd get away with it three years running.
I've had a spare untried and untested rack that's been in my possession since 2008, so the plan was to remove my one and put it in for refurbishment and fit the spare one so that I could still use the car.
I hate doing steering racks at the best of times and power steering with its messy, slippery fluid is even worse. I never seem to remove them without depositing a large quantity of fluid all over the floor!
Anyhoo, the rack was removed without too much fuss and the spare rack was fitted. 
  However, all was not well with the replacement rack. The power assistance would do nothing of the sort and I was left with a power rack, but manual steering. No amount of bleeding or flushing would cure the problem and so sulking, I gave up and left it alone. 
My original rack was left with a specialist on the Monday morning with a polite request to mark it as urgent. My 'urgent' request was rewarded with a completion day of Thursday, only to be told when I rang on Thursday that it now wouldn't be ready until the following Tuesday! If they'd have told me that in the first place, I'd have taken it somewhere else!
So, Thursday night I decided to remove the spare rack again and strip it down for another inspection. All of the pipes were removed for a flushing out and also blasted out with the airline. I also took the input shaft out to see if there were any issues there, but nothing seemed untoward (Other than a missing gasket) to my untrained eye. (Or did it? Read on!)
Friday night I was otherwise engaged, so Saturday morning I put the rack back together and refitted it to the car. Was it cured???? Was it bugger!!!  Admitting defeat I decided not to waste anymore man hours on it and wait until the original rack was finished and returned.
Seeing as it was a bright sunny day, I kept myself occupied by giving the car a wash, t-cut and polish. (Although you can't really tell from the pic below-but I did! Honest!)  

Whilst having a cup of tea in the early evening, that bloody steering issue was still bugging me. (Funny how things can turn into an obsession isn't it?) I'd managed to convince myself that the issue was in the input shaft area. So, seeing as there is no engine or gearbox in the yellow car at present, I figured I should be able to remove the input shaft and assembly from it without removing the rack. Then I could have a look at this one and compare it to the one now in the estate. I decided to do just that and once I'd removed the input shaft from the housing I could see where the issue was. The input shaft in the replacement rack on the estate was 180 degrees out, so the fluid wasn't circulating round the rack as it should. I had wrongly assumed that it was in the correct position when I removed it, and so therefore put it back together the same way. Now it dawned on me why I had been given it for nothing all those years ago! The bloody swine! It obviously didn't work then either!
With renewed enthusiasm I once again removed the rack from the estate, stripped it down again and rebuilt it again, this time with the input shaft in the correct position. At 9pm, I decided to call it a day and refit the rack (again!) Sunday morning.
By 11am Sunday morning, everything was all back together again and it was time to fill up with fluid,  and test. was it successful...................(drum roll required here!) It was! I finally had power steering!   
After all this messing about and aggravation I was hoping that the rack would be good enough to be able to stay in the car and I could keep the refurbished one as a spare when I got it back. However, I never seem to be that blessed. Without being able to explain it precisely, it still doesn't feel quite right and it also has a small leak from one of the seals. (Which is also an MOT fail) 
So as it stands at the moment, I'm collecting my refurbed rack tomorrow and so tonight was spent removing the rack yet again in readiness for refitting of the refurb tomorrow night.
Incidentally, the company refurbishing the rack told me that if I take the car into them, they can change it for me for £100 on top of the refurbishment cost. My answer?.............'No thanks, I can do one of these now in 55 minutes. I've done it four times in two weeks!!!!!!!!!!!!' :-)  

Thursday, 16 February 2012

February 15th & 16th. Time to get on!

While making a short trip to the local scrap yard the other Saturday with a car load of old engine blocks, cranks, suspension parts and anything else that weighed loads and would make them give me money, I noticed that the suspension on the estate was sitting lower on the nearside than it was on the drivers side. The weight in the car was evenly distributed so I could only assume that I had a broken or weak spring.
So, after going through my spares cupboard I found a set of 520lb rear springs that would be ideal replacements.
There was no evidence of any cracks or anything on the ones I removed, so the nearside one must have just weakened over the years.
The replacement springs were fitted and a test drive showed that the back end has stiffened up somewhat. Better for carting about engines and stuff!...............................
Speaking of which, the following day I received a phone call saying that my engine was ready for collection. So the estate was press-ganged into action again and a trip over to Benfleet was arranged.
The engine now has six new pistons, rings, mains, big ends, core plugs and oil seals. It was already bored out to plus .40 thou, so it's now at plus .60 thou. (Plus it has some other nice mods as well!)  I'm looking forward to fitting it into Gertie, but this will have to wait for a few weeks yet, as I have other fish to fry.
The estate's MOT is due in a few weeks time and I've still to resolve my 'play in the steering' issues first. It's also developed an oil leak over the past few days as well, so this will also have to be rectified before the test.
Gertie is also booked in for the 'Chinese Rally' in Holland in four weeks time and I don't want to start pulling the 2000 engine out of it now and not being able to get the new engine fitted and running in time. (There's other stuff I want to do while I have an empty engine bay too)  So the plan is to leave Gertie as she is to do the Chinese rally, start on the engine swap when I get home and use the estate for the HCR. Then hopefully Gertie should be up and running again ready for the International Auto Ecosse at the end of May. Simples!

Wednesday, 8 February 2012

February 8th. Revenge is not sweet!

I was going to use the estate this morning to go to work. I don't own any modern cars and normally get to work via mountain bike. (It's only 5 miles) However, what with this bloody white fluffy stuff we've had since the weekend, biking to work has been proving somewhat difficult. (They don't grit the cycle paths in Essex!) So, I decided to go and dig the car out as it was still buried from the weekend and have a nice warm drive into work.

(Pic taken Sunday Morning)

What I didn't count on was her starting and running well for 30 seconds, then running really sick, then dying altogether, then refusing to start at all! I tried to open the bonnet, but now that all of the snow from Sunday had frozen,it was stuck fast and wouldn't grant me access to the engine bay! With utter disgust I locked it back up and went to work on the mountain bike and froze. Again!
I had been wondering all day at work, if the reason for the car dying was it possibly being frozen up. I knew it had anti-freeze in it, but was there enough in it? I didn't hear any fan belts squealing against a seized water pump or anything so I was hoping this wasn't the case.
Once home, I defrosted the bonnet area (I'm really glad the car was out the back and nobody could see me waving a hair dryer at it!) and checked the radiator and all pulleys on the engine. Nothing was frozen and nothing was seized so that was a relief. I attempted to start the car again but with no joy. With it not even attempting to fire the first thing I looked at was the petrol. Sure enough, there was no petrol getting through. For some reason every eight months or so, this car develops some kind of air lock in the fuel system. I have no idea why?
 I undid the pipe that goes into the fuel pump and as soon as I removed it the petrol inside the pump bubbled and then the pump seemed to top up a bit more! Very strange! I also blew down the fuel line to make sure that there was no blockage in the line, (She's had one of them in the past as well!) but that was free. So, with all pipes re-fitted and tightened I manually primed the pump and..............success! The petrol was flowing again. Hearing the straight six burble into life was music to my ears and with a bit of a luck, she'll now behave herself and go back to being reliable again!

Actually, I think the real reason she wouldn't start this morning was because she was sulking. Those close to me will know that this car used to be the most unreliable piece of engineering I have ever had the misfortune to own. It used to leave me stranded in the most inhospitable, dangerous, and often pitch black places that you could ever imagine. The regularity of which it did so as well was truly alarming. Sometimes it would breakdown four times in a week! Many times I pondered selling it and it did even appear on eBay twice only for them to remove the ad both times for mentioning things that I apparently shouldn't have. ('Spares available as separate purchase' was one offence and saying 'No paypal' was another!) She even managed to seize her engine on the way home from a CT Essex Christmas meal in 2009. Anyhow, I persevered with her, spent money on her and for some time now she has been fine. 

Until...................... I bought the below T-shirt! I thought it was funny. She obviously didn't!

 I'm not sure about wearing it now! :-/


Wednesday, 1 February 2012

February 1st. A bit of a bargain!

While trying to find motivation to go out to the garage Sunday last, I was trawling through eBay when something caught my eye. It had only been listed that minute and had a 'buy it now' option. So without delay I hit the buy it now button and paid for the item immediately. The said item arrived in the post today and to my pleasure, it looked as good as advertised. The object of my affection? A Mk1 2.5pi steering wheel. Those in the know are aware that these are quite a rare item now with even reasonable examples fetching over £100.

Being the impatient type I am and ignoring the sub-zero temperatures I went straight out to the garage after work and removed the 14"Motolita steering wheel that was on the car and fitted the PI wheel. I think it's a vast improvement over the Motolita and suits the car better, so i think I'll stick with it. Oh yes, and the 'buy it now ' price that made me hit the purchase button so quickly??????  A bargain ten pounds!