Today I mostly .....

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Zelandeth
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Re: Today I mostly .....

Post by Zelandeth » Fri Feb 08, 2019 11:18 pm

Having finally got the fuel tank installed and piped up (note to self: if you take it out again, connect the fuel line to the tank BEFORE installing it), there was only one thing left to do.

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The following photos of a very damp Invacar demonstrate quite an important milestone.

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This is for the first time in probably a couple of decades, running entirely on internal power and fuel. No fuel cans balanced on the engine cover, no borrowed battery, it's got a full tank of fuel and is ready to drive.

Now it's been blowing a gale and tipping it down all day here... exactly the sort of conditions you *don't* want during the first test run of an extremely small three wheeler with questionable stability and laughably poor weatherproofing. So I really should have waited until the weekend.

Yeah...we all knew that wasn't going to happen didn't we?

YouTube link

Big point though: Safety etc. This test run has been entirely within a quiet residential area with very little traffic, for a grand total of about half a mile. It won't be going anywhere near the open road until quite a bit more remedial work has been done to the bodywork. This test was largely to help me make a judgement on what the mechanical to do list was - there's only so much you can do with thirty feet of driveway.

[] CVT Belt needs tightened up resulting in it failing to "change up" as the speed picks up.

[] Brakes need readjusted now she's left the drive - quite a bit of free play now, whereas there was hardly any before we left the drive. The nearside rear is dragging a bit too - though far less so after the run than before.

[] Weatherproofing needs to be made to exist at all...It's truly comical how many places water gets in.

[] Demister is essentially useless. There just isn't enough airflow to do anything meaningful...Methinks a booster fan will be getting added to that.

Pretty much exactly the sort of result I was expecting and hoping for to be honest.

Will get the CVT belt and the brakes adjusted, then we'll do another run at the weekend.

I see what folks have been saying about the steering, it is VERY direct...definitely requires a bit of skill to drive smoothly.

Bottom line though: She lives!
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Re: Today I mostly .....

Post by Neil Chowney » Sat Feb 09, 2019 1:04 pm

'tis a beast! :-)

Well done, epic build.
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Argue ye not with dragons, for thou art crunchy and go well on toast........

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Re: Today I mostly .....

Post by Zelandeth » Sat Feb 09, 2019 7:53 pm

Today on "coceptually simple tasks that are actually an absolute pain in the tail" we have adjusting the CVT belt on an Invacar.

Sequence of what you need to do is:

[] Loosen the final drive chaincase pivot bolt.
[] Loosen off the nuts on the threaded bit of the adjuster so there's some free play.
[] Loosen the three nuts around the final drive input shaft.
[] Wind the adjuster in the correct direction until the belt tension seems reasonable.
[] Tighten all of the above back up.

This sounds nice and simple, and looks pretty self explanatory when you look at the nice clear diagram in the manual.

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What this doesn't take into account is that you can only see one of the three nuts around the final drive input that you need to loosen off. So two of them need to be done blind, and that no matter which way you go in there is stuff in the way. Now I know where they are it will be a bit less of a pain next time, but the first time when you only know vaguely where they are it's an exercise in extreme frustration.

What would have made life slightly easier would have been to get the protective cage around the pulleys off, however this is utterly disinterested in the idea of moving after 43 years. I gave up trying to remove the retaining bolts when the spanner started to bend.

Tension now seems a lot more reasonable...There's no obvious "slop" in there now, and you can still just about make it slip with the handbrake on by hand, but it's a case of "Just about" now rather than easy.

By the time I eventually got things back together it was too late to faff around moving the clutchless wonder that is the van out the way for a test run. I'll see about that tommorrow.

Note to self: Sort the clutch in the van already. Meant to check on the price for the master cylinder when I was driving past the dealer today but totally forgot.

I did a bit more work on the rear bumper framework earlier in the afternoon. I think this is as far as the metalwork will go, should be a decent base that I can start to build up the glass fibre around.

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Based on the noticed behaviour during the road test yesterday I made some more brake adjustments. The offside needed to be nipped up a bit more, whereas the nearside had something like three complete turns taken off the adjuster. Will check tomorrow to see if that's helped things out.

I can't help but wonder if I'll notice any real improvement if I were to simply get out onto a slightly faster road and to get the drive belts to cover the full range of their travel a few occasions to clean up the pulley faces.

Hopefully time will permit some further tinkering tomorrow.
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Re: Today I mostly .....

Post by Zelandeth » Sun Feb 10, 2019 11:56 pm

Having got the belts adjusted (after much swearing) yesterday I wanted to take the Invacar out for another quick test today.

This didn't start great as I discovered that the clutch in the van had decided over night to go from "somewhat dodgy" to "non existant." Now, I might be willing to try shuffling a small car around the drive with no clutch, but trying to move something that big with as many blind spots without a clutch just seemed to be a disaster waiting to happen. Especially given that there's a good second or so delay between turning the ignition off and the engine actually stopping!

The whole master cylinder failing right after the slave cylinder just seemed a bit odd to me. I know the slave had failed because overnight at one point it dumped all the fluid on the ground under the van...no questions there. Seemed distinctly odd to me though that the master would fail so nearly simulteneously. What I did remember though was that the fluid in there when I got it was absolutely rank - it looked like strong black coffee. I had a sneaking feeling that it might have wound up ingesting some of the crud that was inevitably floating around in the bottom of the reservoir when the fluid all leaked out.

So then...let's go stand on our head for ten minutes and get the master cylinder out.

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This would have been far easier if the driver's door wasn't jammed up against the hedge meaning I had to do everything from the other side of the cab. Neverthless, didn't take me long once I figured out how to get the split pin holding the pushrod onto the pedal out. I reckon I wasted about twenty minutes on that.

Initially when I got the master cylinder off it was utterly disinterested in holding pressure. Blocking the outlet and pushing the actuating rod in simply resulted in it making strange burping noises from the fluid inlet. After flushing and working through copeous amounts of brake cleaner though it seems to have come good. Reassembling it and bleeding things through has resulted in a working clutch. In fact a working clutch with the bite point at a far more sensible point than it has been as long as I've had the van. It had always been quite low before.

Right...After wasting probably an hour and a half and most of my daylight I could finally move the van so I could get the Invacar out of the garage.

I wasn't going to let that spoil my fun.

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Yes, I need to find the little metal shield that goes on the number plate light. It's in a box somewhere.

Initial tests show that the drive system seems to be behaving better. I still reckon it may be letting the engine rev a little higher than normal, but it's one of those things that I've only given it such a brief test at this point that it's hard to say. I think I'm going to have to take a brave pill and take her out onto a 60mph road and open the throttle and see what happens. Yesterday though it felt like getting to 30 was a chore, whereas I had to back off the throttle to stay within the speed limit today - so definitely a step in the right direction. As mentioned before, I'm curious to see whether just getting the belt and pulleys cleaned up through a bit of use may make a difference.

In terms of use helping though, the brakes seem to be a lot better for it. There's still a bit more dead travel in the "pedal" before you get brakes than I'd maybe like, but they seem to have really good bite now. It's possible to lock all three wheels in an emergency stop, and the handbrake is more than capable of locking the rear wheels - I really wanted to check that as it's obviously your only backup in the event of a hydraulic braking system failure. The brakes when I took it out the first time felt quite wooden even though they did stop you, but they're definitely better now.

There's quite an important milestone visible here...

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Maybe if you look closer...

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Yep...For the first time since 2001 the odometer has moved. She's done a whole two miles now, and I hope to add to that again tomorrow.

The only recurring gremlin I've found again has been the oil leak from the dipstick.

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This absolutely refuses to seal. I've tried to braze it up four times now. I think the issue is that I can't totally clear the residue from where the oil has been. Given that new dipsticks are available for £13, I'm just going to include that in the order I'll be putting through for engine bits shortly. I've already wasted a couple of hours trying to sort it.

I think the plan for tomorrow is to visually tidy the rear bodywork up a bit, maybe try to scrub some of the undergrowth off the driver's door, then go do a higher speed run down to the nearest roundabout and back. I'm seriously tempted if that doesn't result in anything terrifying happening, to take her to one of the nearby supermarkets...Yes, photos will happen if that does.
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Re: Today I mostly .....

Post by Zelandeth » Mon Feb 11, 2019 10:53 pm

Task number one for today was to get the offside brake light working again as I noticed yesterday when I got back into the garage that it was out again. This eventually turned into a 45 minute round of chasing my own tail before re-terminating the main ground for the cluster as I should have done in the first place - which of course immediately resolved the issue and also got both sets of indicators to flash at the same rate for the first time.

Task number two was to cover up some of the bare metalwork on the rear of the car. This has wound up with the whole thing encased in duct tape for now, looks horrific, but at least there are now no sharp edges accessible. I'm sure a bunch of these cars were largely held together by gaffer tape back in the day too.

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No, I'm not proud of it. It's a means to an end - I want to drive the thing, and don't want to wait until I can put aside a couple of complete afternoons with decent weather to attack it with fibreglass.

The offside front corner has had a steel band added to reinforce it, and has been similarly plastered in tape. I've also stuck a patch on the hole in the roof primarily to assist in keeping the weather out.

Speaking of keeping things in or out, I'm glad to see that the lock on the front service cover has freed up after a couple of months of regularly dosing it with penetrating fluid.

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Nice the way stuff seems to keep coming back to life.

With this all done it was time to go for today's test run. After a little noodling around our estate again I decided that it was time to try the higher speed run. No horrors to report. Managed to get up to just under 50mph before having to brake for the roundabout at the bottom of the hill. On the way back progress was slowed a bit, but still got up to 40 or thereabouts. The only slightly unnerving aspect was that she briefly decided not to give me any power when I intitally went to pull onto the roundabout coming back - a fraction of a second's delay and audible pop back through the carb and she was off again. I've notice this happen a few times on roughly half throttle. Guessing there's still a bit of crud floating around in the carb.

On arriving back from that run (wanting to give thigns a check over given it was the first time she had exceeded 30mph in quite a while), there was quite an odd "hot" smell - which I reckon was coming from the paint on the silencer after a bit of checking. The popping back through the carb I reckon is the reason that the carb itself was damp with fuel.

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The carb being cold I think was the only reason this hadn't evaporated pretty much as soon as it had ended up there. I'll keep an eye on this.

I then went about a little further local testing, getting a little more used to the controls meant that a certain degree of mild hooning may have taken place. It's a long while since I was last in a Reliant, but to my mind this definitely feels less tippy when you throw it into a corner or roundabout.

I did attempt to get some video footage of the test drives - but managed an epic fail today on a video front. Attempt number one went just fine until the first roundabout was taken at any speed...at which point the phone fell out of where I'd wedged it. Attempt number two would have been fine if the phone hadn't wound up pointed mostly at the ceiling. I'm going to try to dig out the Not-A-Go-Pro tomorrow and use that instead as it at least has some proper options to secure it to the car. If you guys want me to upload the video I do have just let me know...You can kind of see what's going on and have the audio to go with it.

So, stuff I've ascertained today:

[] Oil leak from dipstick might be fixed.
[] The grounding arrangements in these tail lights is epically rubbish. I may wind up improving this myself to save me trouble in the long run.
[] Handling is better than I expected. I reckon you could actually chuck this car around quite a bit once you're used to it.
[] On the same topic, the suspension and steering feels really tight. No knocks, clonks or obvious play in anything like that.
[] Ride is pleasantly compliant, bit of a surprise given how light she is.
[] One horrible noise which has turned up a couple of times is the guard touching one of the pulleys very lightly - mainly just as you come off the throttle. I will sort this using a small amount of violence shortly. I know what it is though and it sounds way worse than it actually is.
[] 50mph looks to be doable without too much trouble.
[] Occasional miss/backfire on part throttle needs an eye kept on it.

I needed to go to the nearest supermarket for one or two things this afternoon and very nearly took the Invacar...Sadly I chickend out. Maybe tomorrow.

Definitely overall seems to be running better. The drive system seems to be behaving itself pretty much as I'd expect now, I think the biggest thing which initially was throwing me off is just the level of overall noise involved with the engine running at the speed it needs to for the clutch to engage. Was really glad to see that once up to speed that there weren't any unpleasant noises or vibration which would suggest duff wheel bearings or any boring problems like that needing attention.
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Re: Today I mostly .....

Post by Zelandeth » Tue Feb 12, 2019 11:42 pm

Today has been something of a "one step forward, a few hops sideways, and one backward." We knew there were going to be some of them, that's the whole reason we're doing the VERY local shakedown runs. Which I'm sure are really annoying my neighbours by now.

First up, I did managed to track down the Not-A-Go-Pro and do a test with that stuck to the rear window. Annoyingly, while the video is better than I've managed from my phone - the microphone really didn't enjoy such close proximity to 493cc of thundering power behind the driver's seat in the Invacar, so I must apologise for the horrible audio distortion.

YouTube Video over here.

This really does seem to make the ride seem a lot firmer than it feels in person, but better captures the degree of lean when cornering. At least around town you don't really notice the lack of a wheel up front. Until you come to park up at a kerb...the lack of a bump from the nearside front corner the first time I pulled over at the side of the road, *that* messed with my head.

I hadn't spotted until viewing that video that the nearside indicators seem to be playing funny business again...Yay...Those tail lights are going to be a recurring problem aren't they...

The free play in the brakes looks way worse in the video than it feels in person, I think the angle and the lens exagerrates it a bit. There's a good 2" of clearance between the point at which I can lock all three wheels and the bars hitting my knees. I managed to get the single carriageway down the side of our neighbourhood clear a couple of times today, so was able to do an emergency stop from 50mph, and am pleased to say that she can come to a stop more than adequately rapidly when needed.

When I got back from that run, with an even five miles on the clock I decided to check the condition of the plugs just to give me an idea how the engine was running. It's worth noting that the one in the offside cylinder has always had a history of flooding quite regularly on startup, and had always been sooty when the car had just been idling on the driveway. This is how it looked today.

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Here's the partner from the other cylinder.

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Not bad at all I reckon, though obviously it's hard to tell too much from so few miles. No obviously catastrophic oil contamination or anything like that at least.

Today did unearth a few gremlins though.

[] Fuelling. It seemed today that after I'd been going for roughly 30 minutes (including three higher speed runs), I started to experience what felt like severe fuel starvation. Thankfully I was able to limp back home. This definitely shows why I'm doing things this way though, for all it might seem needlessly over-cautious to some folks.

I'm pretty sure that this problem is due to a problem with the fuel pump itself.

Looking at the fuel filter in the engine bay (between the fuel pump and the carb) you can see bubbles of air being pumped through along with the fuel. This is an absolute pain to try to catch visibly on camera.

Here's the best I could manage over on YouTube

A problem on the suction side of the pump really is the only cause I can see for this. The line from the pump to the tank is a single piece of new hose, and attaches to the bottom of the (full) fuel tank. I'd have expected any holes in the line to have therefore made themselves known by leaking fuel out overnight as there should be a decent head of pressure there. Top of the fuel tank is roughly level with the top of the carb.

Obvious question: Is there a vacuum issue due to venting problems? Nope...The cap is vented - and in fact the cap wasn't even on the tank when that video was snapped.

A rebuild kit is avalable for the fuel pump...so I think that will be my next stop.

I think a gasket set for the carb probably makes sense too...

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[] Gearchange linkage fell off!

As I limped into the driveway on one-and-a-bit cylinders due to the fuel starvation issues, I applied the handbrake then suddenly found that my right hand couldn't find the gear lever for some reason.

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Oh. That doesn't look right! Sure enough, pulling the rear service hatch out and standing on my head showed that the connection between the lever and the actual gear selector had come apart. Nice and "easy" to get at...

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You may recall when I took this out of KP I was unable to extract the split pin from this linkage, so I'd put it together with a bolt and lock nut. Obviously this isn't up to dealing with the vibration etc, so I'll need to find a better solution. In the meantime I'll make up a new locknut and apply some threadlock to hopefully keep things together in the meantime. A long enough bolt to fit this position definitely needs to remain in the vehicle toolkit though!

It was nice to see that the pulleys do seem to be cleaning themselves up quite nicely though simply through a bit of use, and that the belt tension seemed to have remained exactly as I left it when I adjusted it.

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While there's still some oxide left there visible, the surface itself feels far, far smoother than it used to. I did wonder if I should put more work into cleaning this lot up - but given that the drive system seems to be generally behaving itself I'm inclined to leave it alone for now.

[] Gearbox oil leak.

When reattaching the gear linkage it was hard to miss the fact that there was quite an obvious leak of gearbox oil from the top cover.

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This wasn't a huge surprise to me given that the box was found essentially caked in a 1/2" thick crust of gearbox oil mixed with mud - what was a surprise what that all four of the nuts were barely finger tight...Let's hope that having nipped them up has sorted that. Failing that I don't think the cover holds anything in, so shouldn't be too hard to make up a new paper gasket if necessary.

Before I went out today though I set about trying to do something to make her look a bit less like a set piece from some post apocalyptic disaster movie, this basically meant trying to shift some of the moss and grime.

Attacking the doors with a stiff scrubbing brush and caravan & motorhome cleaner did a pretty decent job.

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There is still some discolouration which I'll need to hit with some cutting paste, but at least it looks *slightly* less like it's just been dragged out of a field now.

I think thinks will probably need to take a back seat for a few days until I can get the parts for the fuel pump in. Sadly I don't have a suitable alternative pump, electric or otherwise, laying around or I'd test by substitution first. Obviously I can't really keep driving with a known fuelling issue.

What I might do is hook up the fuel injection pump I've got laying around drawing from the carb end and dumping back to tank - the flow level that should get going might allow me to use my eyes and ears to track down where the leak actually is as I'll probably be able to hear it hissing.

Annoyingly I'll most likely have to drain the tank down if I do need to dismantle the system...Methinks a fuel tap right at the tank might be a sensible upgrade...

Will take the opportunity to readjust the brakes again - I have my suspicions that the front adjuster isn't doing its job, so may well swap it for a known good spare and see if that helps. As I've said before, the brakes feel really good. Nice firm control and good bite, just a lot of dead travel before you get to the point that the control does anything.

Would have been nice to get a clean bill of health and just start driving places (as I'm getting quite comfortable with the actual act of piloting her now), but realistically we knew there were going to be things that would turn up and need sorting didn't we.
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Re: Today I mostly .....

Post by Zelandeth » Mon Feb 18, 2019 3:13 am

Given that I've spent quite a bit of money on car bits over the last week or two I had a plan to try to get through this weekend without spending any more money. Oh...wait...

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£83 later...we were able to run those few errands.

In terms of the cars I've actually had very little chance to do anything this weekend, had a couple of hours this evening and that was in. The tasks attacked were:

[] Readjust the brakes. I knew there was too much free play in the system, and checking showed that things did need a tweak. On the front in particular quite a lot of slack was taken up. There is quite a bit of play in the actual pushrod that acts on the master cylinder. This is quite a critical adjustment...and I think I may need to change it...but I'm trying to see if there is in fact a way to do that (without the factory tool) without removing the master cylinder from the car. As I don't want to have to disturb and bleed the entire system yet again until I get the new rear flexible hoses made up and fitted. I seem to have spent as much on brake fluid as petrol lately between this thing and the van.

[] Fuel system check. Given the issues I've had with the fuel system lately I wanted to go over it with a magnifying glass. I couldn't see anything amiss, but reterminated things at the tank end anyway, access was quite awkward last time due to the way the car was parked, so I know it's all lined up nicely now.

[] Fuel gauge. As mentioned before, the sender I'd fitted was for the later Curtis/Veglia gauge, so have no reading on the old Smith's moving iron gauge. With my meter I was pretty quickly able to figure out which wires were what, and made up a jumper for the ground connection (through the case on the old one, which is isolated on the new one).

Now I knew in theory it should work...only three wires involved and electronics is an already I'm usually at home, but would theory work in practice?

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Yep! That's exactly how much fuel is in the tank. This gauge is damped, so rocking the car only resulted in a tiny amount of gauge wiggling, but it definitely did move. I'll have to wait to see how accurate the tracking is as the tank is used. There's no wire in the original vehicle loom for the warning light, so I'll need to route a new conductor for that at some point. That isn't a priority though at the moment. If I'm smart, I'll ignore that until I get around to pulling the dash to properly repair a couple of ancient wiring bodges back there and to add some mommon sense stuff like relays.

A friend has found an electric fuel pump I can borrow to either prove or disprove mine as the cause of my current fuelling gremlin too, which will be helpful. Given the rebuild kit for the current pump is £60 or so, I'd rather know before shelling out on it. At that sort of price I'm tempted to actually go with an electric pump anyway. Main reason being safety. If I do away with the mechanical pump I can keep the fuel lines all well clear of everything hot. That's currently impossible as the pump is essentially on top of the offside exhaust downpipe. I can see that causing fuel evaporation issues down the line too given how much more prone to that modern fuels seem to be.

Target for this week? Get it to Newport Pagnell. Not least because I want to see the look on the face of my usual garage's staff when they see it!
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Re: Today I mostly .....

Post by Zelandeth » Mon Feb 18, 2019 10:20 pm

Thanks to the generousity of the gent behind Hub Nut I received a couple of items which are functionally unimportant but psychologically important shiny bits for TP today which I've now got fitted.

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Kind of hilarious worrying about shiny thing like this given the overall cosmetic disaster that the car is, but it makes me happy. Worked out quite well actually as I had a bunch of 12" wheel trims but am running 10" wheels, and he had a set of 10" ones but is running 12" wheels, so we did a swap.

This afternoon I was able to run her up to temperature again and can confirmed that we still have bubbles in the fuel line...time to try an alternative pump. If we still have issues then I guess it will point to a pinhole somewhere in my new fuel pipe. That would be a highly annoying outcome of it was the case...

To that end, have just collected this from a local enthusiast to do some experimentation with tomorrow.

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If this does resolve my fuel delivery issues I will really need to have a good think about whether I want to rebuild the original pump or move to an electric one full time. The idea of being able to reroute the fuel lines entirely away from hot parts of the engine does hold quite an appeal...
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Re: Today I mostly .....

Post by Zelandeth » Tue Feb 19, 2019 7:34 pm

Having the electric fuel pump in hand meant that I could start doing a bit of investigative work on TP's fuel system. Step one though was to test the pump and to run a bit of clean fuel through it first, as I've no idea when it was last used nor what it last pumped. Not too much gunk came out really which was good to see.

Attaching it to the car however did pose a bit of a problem. Connecting it directly in place of the original fuel pump was going to be a bit tricky on account of the hose connections on the electric pump being 5/16" rather than 3/16" like on the original. However the tank outlet is 5/16" and I have a reducer up front changing it down within a couple of inches of the tank. So it makes sense to just plumb it in up front - which is where I've generally seen electric pumps installed anyway. Can plumb the existing tank outlet to the pump, then the outlet onto the existing reducer. Annoyingly I don't have quite enough 5/16" hose to sensibly position the pump, so I'll need to go and get some tomorrow. I basically want to hang it from the top tank retaining strap in the front compartment - currently it's cable-tied to the nearest chassis rail.

In the engine bay this left me with a slight quandry as well - as I needed to join the two bits of hose that were the pump was bypassed - however I didn't have a joiner specifically that size anywh...Wait...I think I know exactly what will do nicely.

Going back about a year, one of the things I remembered happening when I was starting to contemplate the fuel injection conversion on the Lada was that the fuel return hose connection barb pulled out of the carb body when I attempted to disconnect the hose from it. The bit of my brain centred around improvisation figured that this would probably make a perfectly good hose joiner if I could find it. Thankfully this didn't prove difficult as I'd stuffed it back into the carb before dumping that in the box of "leftovers" from the injection conversion.

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This indeed did the job nicely, and allowed me to tether everything to one of the support struts in the engine bay.

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Obviously I'll do some proper hose trimming and rerouting if I stick with an electric pump long-term, but this will do just fine for testing purposes.

Initially running things up hasn't shown any evidence of air being drawn into the system with the engine having run for 30 minutes or so. I have seen the occasional bubble *leaving* the fuel filter, but nothing on the inlet - so this must this is just a certain amount of fuel evaporation taking place within the filter housing itself. It is just the occasional one too, rather than a pretty steady stream we had before.

I'll get some more hose tomorrow so I can secure the pump in a slightly less dodgy way, then will look to do a bit of a road test to see if there's any noticeable difference in behaviour.

Also finally got around to throwing a bit of paint at the windscreen scuttle on the van, which I'd been meaning to do forever.

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It's not a permenant solution nor is it pretty, but the idea is that it will keep the critical combination of water and air from being able to get to the metal to continue to rust things once it's painted. Plus it looks a bit less dodgy at least!
LOZ: Oddball cars, lighting information, and anything else I remember to upload!
Current fleet: 96 Citroen Xantia Activa, 93 Lada Riva 1.5EFi Estate, 90 Mercedes 208D Autotrail Navajo, 73 AC Model-70.

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