Tuesday, 25 March 2008

Good for a while...

Easter long weekend. A chance to get some things done without inconveniences like work interrupting...

On Friday I spent the day putting the van engine back together. Having started to refit the first exhaust manifold, the bonnet release broke so that had to be fixed before I could continue. Fortunately I discovered that it is possible to release the bonnet from inside the van with the aid of a long length of 20mm square timber! The manifolds went back on more easily than I was expecting although it still took the whole day and the left manifold still contacted on the heatshield which then had to be adjusted as well. I also noticed that the retaining spring for the spare wheel cover had rusted through so I've had to remove the cover for now. I really must look into getting a new spare tyre too as the current one is over three inches smaller in diameter than the road wheels. I need to work out what size is best since a 235/75 like the road wheels won't fit into the spare wheel cover but the 205/65 that's currently the spare is tiny by comparison.

Anyway, by the end of the day the van was finally running again and didn't appear to be leaking any vital fluids. I re-torqued the cylinder heads whilst the manifolds were off and I guess the coolant leak must have been coming from the head gasket joint. On Saturday I tidied up some bits and pieces and started to put some running-in miles on the engine. Apart from a dislike for going up particularly steep hills, the van ran pretty well and I gradually got braver and went further from home! A run down a dual carriageway to see what happened at more than 50mph and all seemed great. Later in the day I went to visit a friend and whilst waiting at the last junction a few yards from their driveway, the oil pressure dropped to zero! This actually happened just as the lights changed and I was about to set off and the increased revs as I pulled away seemed to provide oil pressure again.

After some head scratching, we came to the conclusion that the oil dipstick is too long and is giving an incorrect reading which meant I didn't have enough oil in the sump. This was backed up by draining the oil which gave rather less than 4 litres in the drain can. We refilled with 5 litres of oil and everything was fine afterwards so it seemed that no harm was done. I drove home without further incident and in fact the van seemed to be running better than ever, presumably the new engine is starting to bed in already.

Then on Sunday I started the van in order to move it to do some work on the towbar electrics and there was a distinct tapping sound from the engine. I've not been able to localise this sound but I'm guessing that one of the hydraulic lifters is sticking. I'm hoping it's nothing more serious and I'm also hoping it can be cured without having to dismantle anything as getting to the lifters means stripping down all the top of the engine and I have neither the time nor the enthusiasm to start that job again. I'll try changing the oil again and swap the cheap supermarket stuff we put in at the weekend for some decent branded oil. It had good stuff in to start with but we only had the cheap stuff to hand to get me home the other day.

I really hope nothing is damaged as I'm very fed up with one thing after another going wrong with this project.

On a slightly more positive note, I did finish wiring the towbar and also fitted (but haven't yet wired) the new rear fog lights and reversing lights which is a small step forward. Not much use if the engine isn't working properly though :-(

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