Engine update

Caveat emptor.

I'm falling behind on this, so here's a quick "state of the engine address" for the New Year. Huge thanks to Phil Waters, who's done most of the work on this project.

Unexplained crap was found in the old sump. It felt pretty solid; should be pretty interesting when we get round to stripping the old engine.

We had to fit a new propshaft, because BGH said that the old one had been chewing up the gearbox. Apparently there is a soft metal bush in the gearbox which holds the propshaft yoke in place. This was mush when BGH looked over my gearbox. It might have been due to scoring on the yoke (Brian thought he could see something in a photo) or possibly a dying universal joint, but considering the cost of everything else, it didn't seem worth risking it all for the price of a new propshaft from Caterham. Phil has written up the fitting tribulations, including the removal of the diff.

My bargain engine turned out to be a 1600. Luckily we found out before we did anything more serious to it than unbolting all of the ancillaries. I noticed that the engine number started with "16K4". Research showed that this was indeed very bad news. Fortunately the seller has been very reasonable and has sent me a refund cheque; I just now need to return the engine. He genuinely believed that the engine was a 1.8, but has had no luck getting his money back from the breaker which sold it to him ("it was out of an MGF so it must be an 1800, Sir", ignoring the fact that MG have been selling F's with 1600 engines for years).

Phil tarted up my cam cover, and splendid it looks too. He's written about how it was actually done.

Dave Andrews built me a new engine. Woohoo! Talk about a lucky break. Dave happened to have a VVC bottom end (about 20k miles), and a Lotus Sport 135 head (about 1k miles), both from Elises. The VVC owner had swapped to a Duratech after having a string of problems with his engine (unrelated to the block). The 135 head was fitted by someone in search of more power. He was duly underwhelmed and then went to Dave to get some real horsepower. That's great news because the head was worth no more to Dave than a standard 1800 head, but to me it's worth 10-15 bhp over standard, despite the fact that even Dave's quickest and dirtiest head job is miles more accomplished that the job done on that head. Check out the completely unfinished inlet port. Together with my K04 kit I should be on for a very realistic 180 bhp!

Phil and I were at the Vatican for about 5 hours, helping Dave to bolt the engine together (or in my case, fetching paper towel whenever needed). The process rather helpfully included fitting the new cams, timing them in, and fitting the rotor arm spigot to the inlet cam, so the most difficult engine jobs are now done. We also used a Mike Satur head gasket, which is better engineered than the standard Rover item.

Dave has sent me an Emerald map with fueling slightly increased to account for the 135 head.

We also heard Dave's scare stories about the abysmal design of the Caterham wet sump, how every K of this variety that he's ever opened has had big-end damage, even on low mileage examples. Because fitting a dry sump looks fairly complex in its own right, I have planned to do that as a separate task after the car is running again but before I take it on track. I'm concerned about even driving it on the road now.

See the empty space in the plastic cam cover? That's usually filled by a chunk of metal which must weigh about a kilo, and it does nothing useful in a Caterham. Phil's made me a piece of ali sheet to go in its place. Ta, Phil!

Phil's waffled about the Vatican visit, too.

We've ground the block. Big thanks to Brent Chiswick who came over with his angle grinder to remove the bits of the K block that get in the way of the starter motor. The block is now lighter, and the starter fits. Phil's written about this, too.

The car has lost some weight. I've pulled out the carpets, but not yet managed to remove the copious amounts of glue still stuck to the car. I've tried various solvents; next thing to try is a heat gun and scraper. The heater has also gone (it's not very effective with the aeroscreen), and Phil is making a cover for the huge holes left behind from sheet ali. We also plan to remove the charcoal canister but this doesn't look trivial because you have to make alternative arrangements for the fuel breather on the petrol tank.

Phil's been putting the throttle bodies together, and we've stripped the fuel rail from the old engine.

I've found a local supplier for Comma oils (Cafco, in Reading), so I've got some Syner-Z (0W40) for the engine, and one of the gearbox oils (SX75W90) that was recommended by Brian Hill.

After all that lot, it was time to start putting things back together. Unfortunately we didn't get too far. After we bolted on the new lightweight flywheel we tried to fit the AP clutch cover, but the bolts wouldn't bite. After much puzzling we realised that the bolts are M7, to match the old flywheel. But the new flywheel needs M8 bolts. Of course, not any old M8 bolts, no. They've got an integral washer, and a 14mm-long thread. And Caterham Parts aren't open until Monday 5th January.

Before we realised that the required bolts were M8, I ordered some new ones from the local Rover dealer, taking an old one along to show them, and explicitly mentioning that they were M7. They phoned the next day to say that they could only get 4 (useless), but I went in to check, hopefully. Result! The bolts they'd actually got in were M8. They are ordering some more which should come in on Friday; this would then give us the weekend to work on the car. There's a minimum order quantity of 20, but at 25p each that's still probably cheaper than paying the postage from Caterham.

So, it doesn't look like I'll be going back to work in the Caterham on Monday :-(

Engine saga: part 1, part 3.



This page is http://www.strangely.org/diary/200401/engine.html. It was first published on Thursday 1 January, 2004 and last updated on Wednesday 23 June, 2004.