Today I mostly .....

Any topics of general interest (not lada related), post them here.
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Re: Today I mostly .....

Post by Zelandeth » Thu Jul 01, 2021 12:58 am

Having managed to fall off my bike in a moment of stupidity a couple of days ago, I'm becoming increasingly convinced that I've cracked rather than bruised at least one of my ribs. I am *really* sore.

Had quite a few errands to run today, injured or not.

Did a bit of experimentation and wound up figuring out pretty quickly which car was the least uncomfortable to drive (not going to say it was painless, but it was by far the least painful!).

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TPA to the rescue. About 50 miles of driving today, bit around town, bit out in the dual carriageway, all taken in her stride.

The whole "it gets better with every mile" thing is a terrible cliche...but I'd be lying it that didn't seem to be the case with this little car. Not sure if some of that is just me getting more used to and comfortable with the car or if it's actually true.

Never fails to make me smile every time I drive her that's for sure.

She needs a wash now though, she's collecting quite the coating of bugs on the nose now.

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Re: Today I mostly .....

Post by Zelandeth » Mon Jul 05, 2021 11:33 pm

New oil pressure switch has been fitted to TPA.

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Sadly this hasn't fixed the oil leak (well, it's helped) as precisely as I expected it seems to be coming from the crankshaft oil seal. It's not a major leak though so honestly I'm not worrying too much about it.

I had to run over to Northampton today to drop a couple of things off. That's about 25 miles each way from here...obvious choice of transportation.

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This little car never fails to make me smile. Really does far better on the open road than she has any right to.

We did have the first failure of the year though - albeit a minor one. This happened when I pulled the door closed.

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I think the solution to this is basically going to be to pull it out and smear a shedload of Sikaflex into the join between the inner and outer door skins where they overlap. This issue dates back to the stinking great hole in the inner door skin above the latch.

That panel takes quite a beating as it's the only thing the door pull is attached to and this door takes quite a slam to close.

Not going to complain really, as failures go this is a minor inconvenience. Held me up all of 30 seconds while I coerced the two bits of door back into their respective places.


There is definitely news on the fleet as a whole though... namely that someone has spoken up who wants the Jag. My former flatmate back up north who has long had a Jag obsession. Keeping the car "in the family" so to speak would make me exceedingly happy. This won't be happening immediately as they need to move a car on first, but it's the start of a plan.

If I can make this work...we might have some changes soon.
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Re: Today I mostly .....

Post by Zelandeth » Sat Jul 10, 2021 12:21 am

TPA was out and about again today.

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Uneventful trip, though between running later than I'd planned and trying to outrun some very ominous looking weather I decided it was about time we tested something out - how would she handle the motorway?

Answer? Absolutely fine. Thrums along quite happily at 60, and the smoother road surface makes it seem positively relaxed compared to the A45 on the way out.

Didn't find I got blown around too much, only vehicle which required any actual correction for was a coach which did shove me a bit to one side...but not badly so. Only directional annoyance was there being a seam for several miles right in the lane where I really wanted my front wheel to be! Eventually realised that there's actually a lot of lane to play with when you're in such a small car...so just moved a foot or so to the left.

Being absolutely honest she holds speed at 60 better than the van. Doesn't feel intimidating at all which is nice. While I'd done these speeds before this was by far the longest I'd ever held her at 60 so I was keeping a careful eye on the temperature - didn't budge from 155-165C, so absolutely no worries there - nice to see given that cruising at speed wasn't ever really on the requirements list when she was designed.

I'd always been quite hesitant to take her on the motorway and had taken twice as long to get a few places because of that, but honestly I've zero worry about using it again...only proviso is I wouldn't want to try it on a windy day...that would probably be terrifying.

She will definitely do 70, but it does feel you're making her work though. 60 though feels well within her comfort range - well 62 is what I'll probably actually use when not in a 60mph average speed trap - so I'll basically wait till I spot a coach going my way and just slot in behind them. It's not a major issue though to buzz up to 70 to overtake a lorry...or dawdling Prius though which is nice to know.

If I do ever embark on my round country trip knowing that motorways aren't terrifying will definitely be a bonus as trying to avoid them entirely during that would be a real pain.

This little car keeps surprising me. I expected the motorway test not to be a huge deal but I was really surprised at the ease she dispatched the test!


Regarding the new purchase I've come up with a plan of attack. The one known mechanical issue it has currently is a brake caliper which - occasionally - sticks. Probably be fine...but having quite a long drive home I'd rather keep Murphy's Law at bay. I've decided that I'm going to order a new caliper (well probably two actually as if one is playing up the other will probably cause issues in the future), and depending on the type of fitting, possibly the flexible lines as well. With that, a decent selection of fittings and some brake line so if we need to we can just change it. Our first stopover point will be roughly an hour from the collection point so hopefully that will give us a decent bead on how the car is behaving. I'd rather not change a caliper in a car park, but if we need to we will be equipped to do so!

PS. I've been wearing this thing two days now.

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I am utterly fed up with it already!
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Re: Today I mostly .....

Post by Zelandeth » Tue Jul 13, 2021 10:34 pm

Over the weekend we were helping a friend move out of their house (not moving, but they're having a wholesale renovation done) so didn't have much opportunity to do anything - and am now quite broken from the physical work involved... especially as I went into it already with a duff wrist and cracked ribs!

I was very, very glad to hand this modern mess back on Monday morning.

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Horrible, horrible thing to drive. Though it has reminded me that I keep meaning to get a set of wide angle blind spot mirrors for my van as they are really nice to have.

Never driven a modern Transit I didn't hate. Really would like to try an 80s one to see how it compares to my Merc one day. Far prefer a proper old Merc T1 a modern Sprinter, but I'd take a Sprinter over this thing any day of the week.

Main things that drove me round the bend:

[] Horrible heavy, clunky gearchange (keeping in mind I've a knackered left wrist just now).

[] Dash is way too high which makes the front end blind spots twice the size they should be. I've never felt like I actually needed front end parking sensors on a van before!

[] Brakes are simultaneously spongey as all hell *and* basically have zero progression... they're on or off. This is made twenty million times worse because the pedal is so far up off the floor that you can't rest your heel on the floor and operate it...so you have to hover your foot on it like the clutch.

It is basically impossible it move smoothly at low speeds...which you do a lot of in a van. That brake pedal is one of the daftest bits of design I have ever come across.

[] Touch screen. Yes, everyone wants inbuilt sat nav these days...fair enough. However this one really ticks me off because it has essentially no off button. There is a button which will (after three presses) blank it...but it immediately springs back to life every time you restart it, change the blower speed, switch anything on/off, open a door or someone walks close enough to the front of the van at a crossing to trigger the parking sensors. It then doesn't go back to sleep...you have to manually turn it off again. Oh...and it's black text on a white background - even at night. Thanks Ford...great design.

[] Why are there no grab handles to help you climb into the cab? My spine would really have appreciated that...

[] The 3000rpm rev limit in first gear is sheer insanity. I just stopped using first gear because it made getting out into a busy junction or roundabout safely near impossible.

Rental van specs still make me scratch my head. Remote central locking, full Bluetooth connectivity etc, sat nav, heated front windscreen, auto folding electric mirrors, cruise control, but no air conditioning! C'mon guys it's 2021... wouldn't surprise me if they'd specifically deleted that...

Oh, and the synco on 3rd gear was crunchy...with 4700 miles on the clock! That doesn't instill much confidence.

Anyhow, I'm pretty much knackered and reckon it will be a good few days before I'm back to my usual levels of productivity. I did manage half an hour in the garage yesterday...well about 15 minutes actually before my body made it abundantly clear that it wasn't amused at the idea!

I've started on the 2000 mile checkup on TPA. We're within 150 miles now and it's no biggie if there's a few miles between things.

First check was on the spark plugs. These have been in there since I first started reviving the engine in KPL.

Nearside:

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Offside:

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Nothing concerning there I feel. Gap was still perfect so they were put straight back in - will have another look in another thousand miles.

It looks like the collection mission for the new arrival will be happening this weekend, most likely driving up on Friday afternoon and coming back on the Saturday as that's just when my lift is available.
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Re: Today I mostly .....

Post by Zelandeth » Wed Jul 14, 2021 3:20 pm

Why yes, I did just do a Costco run by Invacar.

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Only a small one admittedly and 95% of it for other people, but nevertheless I'm sure a lot of people would have thought I was crazy.

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Granted, I think a lot of people think I'm crazy for driving it at all!
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Re: Today I mostly .....

Post by Zelandeth » Sun Jul 18, 2021 11:48 pm

386 miles later the new motor is safely home.

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So, so nearly made it without incident. We made really good time, after two checks en route to make sure we weren't losing any fluids we were quite happily bowling through the last stint, when on mile 372 of 389, four miles before our exit from the M1 we hit stationary traffic, out of the blue.

At which point we were parked almost motionless for 40 minutes, save for a couple of six foot creeps. On a 29C day, in direct sunlight, being blasted by the output from the radiator of the bus in front of us.

Approximately 39 minutes and 30 seconds into the wait, the engine stopped...and refused to restart...right as the traffic started moving off. In lane 2, on a bit of motorway with no hard shoulder...nor even any provision for pedestrian egress unless I fancied trying to clamber over s six foot tall concrete barrier wall.

Mercifully after about five minutes (however long it took me to get through to the police to report the issue I was causing), she restarted as though nothing had happened.

It felt like classic fuel vapour lock...which I've never personally come across on an injected engine before, but it would be theoretically possible I'd think with a continuous injection system like this as the injectors are essentially poppet valves. There is one thing I will definitely do though related to this incident will be to find the ignition amplifier, clean it up and apply fresh heatsink compound between it and whatever it's bolted to as if that overheated it could have caused our spark to drop out.

Never lost a drop of coolant nor overheated...got warmer than I'd generally like because I'm always wary of overheating, but nowhere near "in the red."


Just really lucky the traffic never got above walking pace until after I got the car going again.

Given the absolutely absurd number of dead cars littering the motorway today though I absolutely don't begrudge her having a momentary temper tantrum. It was pretty much exactly the sort of scenario you'd use for stress testing.

Other than that five minutes of mild panic though she ran absolutely perfectly the whole way.

I fuelled up just before calling it a day so I could calculate my economy, coming out at 30.2MPG. Not exactly going to win any prizes but perfectly acceptable.

Observations:

For all she looks a little care worn cosmetically in a few areas she actually drives incredibly well. The waft is strong with this one. She does have a decent turn of pace though when asked.

It took me until departing the toll booth on the M6 Toll to discover the front seat arm rest...and about another ten minutes to figure out how to deploy it.

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That huge, carpet lined cubby where most cars would have the handbrake is absolutely brilliant. I am going to miss that in everything going forward!

Why don't more cars have sunroofs this big?

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Cabin is generally a nice place to be...resecuring a couple of bits of trim, sorting the front and rear trim panel headlining and a really good clean will transform it.

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Really good rear legroom.

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Boot space is absolutely massive...this must be twice the size of the boot in the Lada which is the only other estate I've owned to date.

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It's the best part of 15 years since I last drove a W123...and I've definitely been reminded why they have such a strong following...they are cracking cars to drive. Not massively engaging, but a lovely way to waft around.

Really does feel in a lot of ways like a German Saab...and I mean that as a huge compliment.

Definitely glad to have bought it.

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The single combined indicator/wiper stalk is something I'm absolutely used to (and like) from the van... though it's on the opposite side of the column. I'd just about stopped flailing around into my keyring when cancelling indicators about the time we got home.

Had forgotten how nice and purposeful a growl these engines make higher in the rev range... it's that perfect blend of refined yet purposeful.

Issues we need to look into:

[] Aforementioned engine cutout incident...clean up, re-thermal goop the ignition amplifier module. In honesty an electric booster fan to help keep under bonnet temps down in traffic wouldn't be a bad thing these days.

[] Oil leaks. Rocker cover is definitely leaking...will sort that, clean up then see what else we find.

[] Valve clearances need setting I think as the top end is a bit tappy. I need to take the rocker cover off anyway so a good time to sort them. Sounds more like valve train than timing chain. It's a bit strange a setup on these engines as they have a central can which is completely hidden under the rockers, but I've done it before so no worries there.

[] Driver's seat base needs some help, feels like the springing has partly collapsed.

[] Secondary bonnet catch release handle is broken.

[] Electric adjustment for nearside mirror doesn't work.

[] Missing pin in NSF interior door release handle.

[] All four door locks loose in doors... already sorted. They all close with the proper solid thud now...love the noise they make, very reminiscent of Volvos.

[] In gear idle is a tad low.

[] Minor exhaust blow from somewhere.

[] Propshaft UJ wants either greasing or replacing as it clonks a bit when switching between drive/reverse.

The brightwork will be getting s polish shortly too...that alone will probably make quite the difference.

Something I always enjoy is nightime dash lighting photos so of course had to grab one. Once I replaced the one blown bulb in the heater blower knob anyway.

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Will need to revisit this as the illumination in the button panel above the heater doesn't seem to work currently.

Looking forward to getting stuck into that to do list!

Expect a couple of dozen photos tomorrow.
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Re: Today I mostly .....

Post by Zelandeth » Tue Jul 20, 2021 12:56 am

Little very mild tinkering before I went out to run some errands this afternoon.

Step 1 was to implement a slightly more robust solution to the broken secondary bonnet catch pull than the bit of bent wire on it.

Cable tie to the rescue.

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Which I can tuck back into the grill to make it slightly less conspicuous when not in use.

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Of course I remembered about 30 seconds after this that I have some grey ones in the garage. Meh, it will do for now, the broken bit will be getting replaced eventually anyway.

While I was under the bonnet there were some checks to make. First up, how much oil did we use during the run down yesterday?

A sufficiently tiny amount that it doesn't show on the dipstick. Not going to complain at that!

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Coolant hasn't moved either, which is pretty impressive given the conditions yesterday.

On the subject of coolant the radiator isn't in the best of condition. It's serviceable (if she held temperature yesterday she should do under any situation) but I'm going to keep my eyes peeled for a replacement.

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While the oil is a bit grubby the air filter looks pretty much new so I'll leave that alone for the time being.

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The spring clips on the airbox are wicked strong so I quickly learned to keep your knuckles out of the way when releasing them...ow.

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Fuel metering plate could do with a clean though. This ideally wants to be cleaner than a hospital operating table after it's prepped for surgery.

Just having a general poke around the engine bay I discovered that the power steering pump has an integrated reservoir...

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This was a surprise as that's what I'd (for no particularly good reason) assumed the oil reservoir on the offside front wing was for.

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After a little head scratching I remembered reading something about the estates having self leveling suspension on the rear...so that will be what this is for then. All I know so far is it looks like we have a camshaft driven pump and that the pipework disappears downward in the general vicinity of the brake master cylinder.

I was wanting to renew the thermal compound under the ignition amplifier, I was expecting to find this on the nearside inner wing...which was exactly where it was.

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The heatsink compound under it wasn't horrible but was clearly just starting to break down and go chalky in a couple of places.

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This was cleaned off and replaced with new good quality stuff. I do note that the O-rings on the wiring connectors are badly perished so will need to change those - especially as a date with the degreaser is definitely in the future of this engine bay.

First lesson I learned during the trip out today...if you brake fairly firmly at speed, the sunroof will slide shut and scare the bejeezus out of you. Will check to see if it can be locked in the open position next time...never occurred to me.

She really is a nice car to waft around in and really does look classy.

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Really does have proper presence on the road too.

A long term fleet member? Bit hard to say so early on...but my gut feeling is that she may well be.
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Re: Today I mostly .....

Post by Zelandeth » Tue Jul 20, 2021 7:54 pm

Just as a bit of background to the "thermal incident" during the trip home, this is the highest the temperature gauge ever seems to get to, in stop/start town traffic today with 30C ambient temperatures.

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It gets that far, then drops back down to just below that mark on the gauge over the course of a minute or two, then just repeats that cycle. Presumably as the (electromagnetic) clutch on the fan cuts in/out. Temperature when actually driving seems to sit at a fairly solid 85-95C. So I don't think she's overheating, rather something just took exception to being hot.

Having scared myself half to death yesterday when the sunroof slammed itself shut (it's unsurprisingly heavy!) under braking I had a closer look today. It can indeed be locked in place when open...not sure why this never occurred to me before.

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Will try to remember to do that in future to avoid giving myself a heart attack again. Speaking of the sunroof, yes that locking/pull handle is indeed as satisfying to operate as it looks like it should be.

While the stereo fitted was relatively recent it lacked Bluetooth connectivity. Given that this is a car I plan to use regularly this was a must have, and I figured I may as well just get it swapped out now while I'm waiting for some service parts to arrive.

Pulling the old one out revealed that the cage wasn't actually anchored to the dash at all and typically 80s stereo wiring.

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The fact that by wiggling the wires I could make channels cut in and out confirmed that I needed to remove the tape and properly connect these wires together.

By the standards of modern stereos the new one is not massively blingy at least.

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The display colours on this unit are fully customisable and you can separately set it for the display and buttons. So I went with warm white for the display and red for the buttons, matching the heater controls directly above.

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Far better than the bright blue gaudy thing it replaced anyway.

Haven't fitted the hands free mic or DAB antenna yet, will come back to that when I have more time and it's less than 29C in the shade. In fact I've not even turned the volume up to see how good or otherwise the speakers are, as they may well be the next thing to see attention if they're poor. Even sticking with the stock sizes there can be huge improvements to be had, speaker tech has come a long way in recent years. Don't worry, no holes are getting cut, everything will be kept behind the factory grills.

It did reveal that the centre console doesn't actually appear to be attached to the rest of the dash...so that's something else I'll need to add to the to do list for investigation.
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Re: Today I mostly .....

Post by Zelandeth » Wed Jul 21, 2021 11:09 pm

Had a proper nose around in the engine bay today for the first time since I picked the Merc up, when a very basic check of "does it have oil and water in?" was done.

Immediate thing which just leaps out at me is how much room there is around the engine on all sides.

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Even behind the engine there's about a 6" gap.

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Anyone notice anything missing there?

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Yep, missing a manifold nut. Looks like the threads are a bit chewed up so we may wind up with a few washers involved. I'm inclined to just leave the stud alone rather than breaking it trying to remove it for replacement. I *have* a spare head and manifold here but I'd rather not have to mess around swapping parts over between them if I can avoid it.

Looks like radiator replacement will need to be moved up the list a bit. Not lost any measurable amount of coolant, but the top tank to core seal is definitely weeping.

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Will have a dig around and see what I can find. If there's a drop in all-metal replacement I'd rather go that way as I'm really not a fan of plastic tanked radiators. Having said that I'm kind of curious to see if I can find any date codes on it to see how old this one actually is.

First mechanical job though is definitely going to be setting the valve clearances in the hope the rattle is slightly reduced.



As soon as the new rocker cover gasket arrives (a whole £18 from the dealer - going rate on eBay looked to be £20-25) I'll get that done. Then drown the whole engine bay in degreaser and blast the worst of the crud off, as it's honestly disgusting. Every time you touch anything you get covered in oil.

Did notice one nice detail in the engine bay that I'll need to try to remake...you know all that technical info for servicing you're likely to need? Spark plug type and gap, timing details, valve clearances...all right here on the slam panel.

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Nice little detail to find. Just a shame it's so faded...wonder if someone sells reproduction engine bay sticker sets for the W123...

Made a run over to the Formula 1 in Newport Pagnell to get her up on the ramps to see if we could find where the exhaust is puffing from. The answer is the second silencer, which has split around the weld on the outer casing on the leading edge. The rest of the system isn't in bad shape actually. Given the degree of grot is visible on some of the body panels the underside looks to be in surprisingly good shape to be honest. Does look like I've got a bit of a fuel leak though - looks to be from the top of the tank, so thinking the seal around the gauge sender is most likely the culprit. Wasn't actively leaking but you could see the evidence of it having run down the side of the tank.

Sadly they can't source any exhaust parts for a car this old (can't say I'm surprised) so I'll need to see if I can track one down...or just go round to Deutsche Tech and get the offending section made up in stainless. I don't like faffing about with exhausts so that is likely what we'll end up going with, as the puffing from it will likely drive me mad.

Quite happy with today's tinkering though. Was pleasantly surprised at the condition of the underside of the car, found the exhaust is actually mostly sound aside from one silencer (which actually looks like a manufacturing defect rather than corrosion), got a price on a set of tyres which is well within my expectations, dealer was helpful, oh...and found this bit of broken trim in the glove box.

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Just glue this back together and replace the missing fastener, you'd never notice it was cracked.

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Feeling quite positive today. There was a certain degree of "what have I got myself into" creeping in with regards to some areas, but I'm getting more convinced that there is actually a good car here, she just needs a bit of TLC.

Finally got around to getting a couple of photos of her and the van together. These do a good job of showing how much wider than a car the van is too.

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I think a couple of paint touch ups, a really good polish, some nice fresh tyres and a new set of number plates will make her look quite different.

The number plates are both pretty knackered.

Front one is cracked around both mounting screws.

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The rear one is crack free but is delaminating...plus both are in the post 2001 typeface which on a vehicle of this age bugs my OCD something rotten.

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Thinking that given the age just standard acrylic plates make the most sense. Think pressed metal would look like we were trying to pretend to imitate the German ones a bit too hard, which is why they bug me on Golfs etc so much.

Question is whether is just go for a plain plate though or if I try to recreate a dealer plate? Not sure where this car was originally sold. Though I wouldn't be surprised if someone could figure it out!
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Re: Today I mostly .....

Post by Zelandeth » Thu Jul 22, 2021 10:28 pm

Out and about again today. Stopped in one of the local car parks and grabbed a couple of photos.

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These cars really do have quite some road presence. Can't really think of many things which compete in that regard other than the like of Rollers, Tatra T-603...

Really does suit the estate body as well I think, so many estates look clunky or out of balance compared to their saloon or hatchback variants, whereas this shape just works for me.

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Gave the interior plastics a really quick wipe down this afternoon with some vinyl & rubber care solution. Never ceases to amaze me how much life that alone can bring back to the interior of a car.

They really were quite dull and chalky.

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The interior really is a pleasant place to be. Even in spite of a partly collapsed driver's seat base.

While I had the stuff out, gave a few of the exterior plastics a quick wipe down as well - totally forgetting the grey bit of the radiator grill. Derp.

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Noticed while doing this that there's quite a bit of condensation in the nearside headlight.

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Given how warm it currently is have just popped the rear cover off it, hoping the weather will dry it out for me. I'll have a closer look to see if I can see any evidence of where water may have got in at a later date.

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Courtesy of a local independent locksmith we now have a non manky set of keys, the tatty ones it came with have been relegated to the spares drawer. They both worked fine but the ignition key had long since lost the plastic handle bit so was really awkward to use.

Has reminded me that I still need to get a spare made up for the van, as they have the right blanks will run by there again tomorrow to get one made. Not having a full set of spare keys makes me really uncomfortable... especially as I've locked them in it once already (and had to break in via the gas locker and unbolt the sink from underneath to gain access!).
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Re: Today I mostly .....

Post by Zelandeth » Fri Jul 23, 2021 9:01 pm

Rocker cover gasket arrived this morning so should be able to look at getting the valve clearances set and the top end at least something resembling oil tight soon. Then will get an oil and filter change done. I'm looking forward to that as I'd really like it to stop sounding like an 80s 1.1 Fiesta.

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Fuel filter was done not massively long ago, but I don't know precisely when...so I'd like to get it on the service log. I'm seriously tempted to fit the old fuel pump from my Saab as the one currently on here makes an utterly horrendous, piercing whine. Just need to look up the specs for the two to make sure they're the same - but my gut feeling is that they will be.

Normally I'd have already done the oil & filter change, but I'm holding off until I've done the valve clearances and have cleaned up the remains of the old petrified rocker cover gasket that will no doubt be stuck to the head. I'm bound to get some crud washed down to the sump when I do that, and I'd rather do that immediately before rather than right after an oil change.

One thing I noticed a day or two ago was that the tailpipe was only sitting in one of the rear hangers.

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Upon reattaching this errant hanger it immediately became apparent *why* it was detached as a horrible rattling buzz reverberated through the car. The unmistakable noise of an exhaust pipe touching the underbody.

Right here.

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The reason that one hanger was removed was because they were too short. A simple fix at least by sticking a couple of slightly longer (50mm diameter) hangers in there instead.

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While in that corner I investigated the non functional reversing light. Just a case of dirty contacts, after a quick clean it was back in action - though it needs a good clean and ideally a new lens.

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As I had hoped the condensation in the nearside headlight has cleared up completely.

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Annoyingly I then spotted there's similar damp in the offside one...it will get the same treatment next week.

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Was interested to discover that the inner two elements in the headlights aren't actually used for main beam (as on the Ford Sierra to name one car with a visually similar structure to the lights) but appear to be front fog or driving lights. Really need to track down an English PDF of the handbook!
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Current fleet: 96 Citroen Xantia Activa, 90 Mercedes 208D Autotrail Navajo, 85 Jaguar XJ-S V12 HE, 85 Sinclair C5, 73 AC Model-70.

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Re: Today I mostly .....

Post by Zelandeth » Sun Jul 25, 2021 11:23 pm

Couple of things done today...first of which you likely won't be able to see on camera - cleaning the inside and outside of the windscreen. It's nice being able to see where I'm going now. Inside was particularly bad with a really thick, greasy coating on it.

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Had a nose around under the bonnet with a view to seeing what I need to move to get the rocker cover off. Doesn't look like it should be too bad.

Found a nut and a few washers so have replaced the missing nut on the exhaust manifold.

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Couldn't actually see or hear any sign of it blowing there, but at least I know it's bolted up properly now.

While the exhaust manifold doesn't seem to be leaking, the rocker cover definitely is. Oil everywhere.

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I am seriously looking forward to cleaning this engine bay. Not only will it be immensely satisfying, but it will be really nice to not get covered in black grime every time I so much as walk within ten feet of it.

Realised this afternoon that I'm going to need to spend more money before the proper cleaning can start though as my pressure washer died a couple of months ago. This shows that she really needs a good clean outside as well as under the bonnet.

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Sadly my pressure washer died a couple of months ago...so I need to replace that sooner than later.

Spotted something that needed immediate attention today...this looks like it might be a vacuum leak.

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Yep, that will be letting a bit of air in.

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Found another one of these in a similar state over on the offside inner wing. I don't have a diagram of the vacuum system yet so not actually sure what this does just now...There are a lot of vacuum lines on this car as a lot of things operate off vacuum. Central locking and headlight height adjusters to name two.

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I'll probably go around and change all of these boot connectors at some point as they're all a bit soft. Thankfully the lines themselves are plastic and still seem in fine shape.


Speaking of rubber that needs changing, the supply line for the self leveling suspension is looking rather sorry for itself.

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Will look to get that changed soon. I do need to confirm what type of fluid this uses - though the initial glance at Google seems to suggest that it's basically LHM with a Merc logo on. Which would be nice as I've a load of that in stock. It certainly *smells* like LHM.

I think one of the first non mechanical tasks will be seeing what I can do to straighten this roof lining trim.

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This panel needs to come out anyway for two reasons. One is to replace the tailgate gas struts, the other is to fit rear speakers as there currently aren't any.

The moulding is basically fibreboard and I imagine has got wet at some point. Hoping that with a bit of persuasion I might be able to get it to sit flat again. Apparently getting this hooked back in place is a pig of a job so hopefully I'll only need to do it once.
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Current fleet: 96 Citroen Xantia Activa, 90 Mercedes 208D Autotrail Navajo, 85 Jaguar XJ-S V12 HE, 85 Sinclair C5, 73 AC Model-70.

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Re: Today I mostly .....

Post by Zelandeth » Tue Jul 27, 2021 12:15 am

What do you need to do to pull the rocker cover on a W123 with this engine?

1. Remove air cleaner housing (4 10mm nuts and pop two PCV hoses off).

2. Remove HT leads from the little plastic channel they sit in.

3. Detach the throttle cable at the engine end (little ball and socket setup, just pops off) and feed it back through the cable bracket.

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4. Remove the nuts (noting that one is a bolt and post arrangement to hold the ATF dipstick in place).

5. Lift off rocker cover. That's it...ten minutes tops. It's almost as though someone during the design stage thought that you might need to service a car one day.

Speaking of servicing, that's something somebody earlier in this cars life didn't pay much attention to. She clearly never had regular oil changes... it's quite manky in here.

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Sadly there is evidence of damage due to this...the camshaft in particular looks to have taken quite a beating, a couple of the lobes on cylinders 2 and 3 have some really rather nasty scoring.

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That is why you should change your oil and filter regularly, folks...

Valve clearances were a mixture of slightly loose, perfect and slightly tight. I think whoever was last in here just set them all roughly to 0.2mm from the feel of it. With them reset she does sound better, though a couple of valves definitely are still clattery. I suspect trying to quiet things down far is a bit of a lost cause given the state of that camshaft.

One thing I am definitely going to do when I've next got an hour free will be to pull the spray bar off and make sure that all the holes are clear, if it's clogged the cam will obviously be starved of oil.

Solving the issue properly isn't necessarily a huge headache given that I just happen to have a complete spare head sitting in my conservatory.

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In which the camshaft looks like this.

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So somewhere down the line one of two things will likely happen.

A: I swap the camshaft and rockers over from the spare head.

B: I drop the spare head off to be professionally cleaned, inspected, valves lapped, new valve stem oil seals fitted etc...and then just swap the whole head over.

B probably makes the most sense - though in the same breath the bottom end of the engine has suffered exactly the same degree of neglect...so dropping a lovely rebuilt head onto it without doing any other work might be a bit silly... though I do keep being told how hardy these engines are...so we'll keep an eye on things basically. Regular oil changes will definitely be adhered to though going forward! I'm not immediately worried, but definitely want to keep an eye on things.
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Re: Today I mostly .....

Post by Zelandeth » Tue Jul 27, 2021 6:10 pm

Given we had obvious signs of poor lubrication on the camshaft that at least verifying that we had clear holes in the spray bar made sense. Especially as I had a spare present on the spare head, so simple to clean that up and just do a swap.

Here's it having just been removed - it has four pretty small holes in it which provide a drip feed of lubricant to the cam lobes, one for each pair.

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They are pretty tiny.

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Despite the head that came off being about 93% cleaner than the one on the car, only two of the holes were clear...doesn't bode well for the one on the car. I gave the "clean" one a thorough clean and got it flowing nicely.

Ten minutes later, had them swapped over.

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Having clean metal to contrast it against really highlights how grubby that top end is.

All back together.

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Has it made any audible difference? Not really. Though at least I know there's a good chance of lubrication getting to where it should now.

The old one was pretty manky indeed.

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Only one of the holes was clear, one other was about 50% clogged and two were completely missing in action - and you couldn't even see them for the gunk...so I think this was worth doing, even if most of the damage is already done it makes me feel better.

Being finished messing around under the rocker cover for a while I decided it was time for us to actually change the oil and filter. Went out for a run first to get everything nice and warm and to ensure as much of the gunk was stirred up in solution as possible.

Sump plug unsurprisingly is really easy to get to and came off without excessive effort. What came out was really dark but I've definitely seen worse. It was dark brown rather than black ink like you tend to find in diesels.

Oil filter has some crud immediately visible on top of the filter even before it was pulled out.

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This definitely looks to have done its time...the fact that part of the filter has collapsed tends to suggest to me it's a bit plugged.

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It has actually pulled the element away from the top cap there.

Out of curiosity I will dissect this filter to see if there's any evidence of issues visible.

New filter in, new O-ring and copper washer fitted to the filter housing...

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The old O-ring had (like the rocker cover gasket) pretty much turned to plastic.

Double checked I'd refitted the sump plug... possible to do easily from next to the car as you have line of sight of it from above.

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Then refilled with some fresh oil, started up and checked for leaks. None present.

I'm not used to seeing this sort of thing actually making any visible difference...but this has where hot idle oil pressure is concerned. When at full temperature, in gear at idle I used to see 1 bar or fractionally above of oil pressure (it jumps off scale as soon as any revs are really used).

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So it looks like I've gained somewhere in the region of 15psi of oil pressure at a hot idle. Not going to complain at that. I may try 15W 40 for the next change (10W 40 or 15W 40 are recommended) and see if that makes a difference.

Think my oil change program on this car is basically going to be "Change it as soon as it starts to look dirty" for a while.
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Current fleet: 96 Citroen Xantia Activa, 90 Mercedes 208D Autotrail Navajo, 85 Jaguar XJ-S V12 HE, 85 Sinclair C5, 73 AC Model-70.

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Re: Today I mostly .....

Post by Zelandeth » Thu Jul 29, 2021 1:40 am

After 30 or so miles today the rocker cover still looks to be oil tight...except for the oil cap which looks to be weeping.

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I did check that the PCV was clear when I had the cover off and it seems to be. The problem I think is actually that the paint is flaking off the rocker cover meaning that the sealing surface isn't flat.

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My solution is pretty simple...scrape the remaining paint around the cap sealing surface (having stuffed a rag in there to catch the flakes). Yes I did spot I'd missed a bit after taking this photo.

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We'll find out next time I have the car out probably tomorrow.

Only other thing I did today was to get the new front speakers fitted. These had been upgraded at some point in the past, I'd say somewhere around 2000 based on the speakers found. Discovered why they rattled so badly... because they weren't screwed in. Just sitting on top of the dash. Turns out this has also has resolved one of the main rattles in the dash in general.

The new ones are just cheap units (all of £16 from Halfords) but that really does show how far speaker technology has come over the years in that they're far better than the Sony ones that came out.

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The dash moulding here is actually metal under the surface so now these are screwed down they are very securely anchored. The grill just fits over the tweeter thankfully. Equally thankfully the neon orange is completely hidden behind the grill.

The passenger side one sadly has one broken clip on it so the grill doesn't clip down securely at the front edge, I'll need to see what I can do about that - as I'm certainly not paying the £50 someone is asking for one of the covers on eBay at the moment.

I need to take some measurements to confirm if I have enough depth to play with, but if so I'll probably just throw a set of the same speakers in the rear. As you've only got little 4" enclosures to play with (though the front ones do have proper acoustic foam in the enclosure behind them) I don't really think there's a huge point in paying big bucks for speakers. What I'll probably do is look into getting one of those little self contained under-seat combined sub and amplifier boxes to just help things sound a bit more rounded out. Should be easy to just run the wiring through the centre console as well without needing to dismantle too much.

Speaking of wiring...I really do hope that Mercedes included wiring for the rear speakers as part of the loom as routing wiring all the way back there will be a major faff. Especially with the speakers being mounted in the head lining. Not holding my breath there though!

I know audio is really low priority compared to a lot of things, but it's one of those things which make the car nicer to live with so I'd like to get it properly sorted sooner than later.

In more useful news, a set of bootlid struts have now been ordered. The next specific task I'm probably going to go after will be the trim on the bootlid. It's tried to cut my wrist twice walking round the car now and I really don't want that happening to some random member of the public who then decides to sue me.

Trim is one of the things which just aren't available new for these cars and the prices for used parts are just silly if you look at the likes of eBay, so it's a case of make do, mend or wait patiently until something turns up at a sane price, most likely found through word of mouth rather than any internet search.

Tyres will probably be getting changed next week or the week after. She will be getting a full set of Uniroyals fitted, and (if it's better than the current one) the best will be retained for the spare. She does wander around a bit so I'll have the wheel alignment checked while we're there - I think the main issue though is just a bit of play in the steering box which we might be able to improve a bit with some adjustment.

So we are doing more important things than just replacing speakers!
LOZ: Oddball cars, lighting information, and anything else I remember to upload!
Current fleet: 96 Citroen Xantia Activa, 90 Mercedes 208D Autotrail Navajo, 85 Jaguar XJ-S V12 HE, 85 Sinclair C5, 73 AC Model-70.

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