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 » Fri Dec 03, 2021 5:52 pm

Been having a bit of a ponder about the fleet as a whole today and also looking at commitments coming up both temporal and fiscal.

I am still unconvinced that the engine in the S123 has great long term health prospects. I'm far from convinced that the rattle at higher revs isn't getting slowly worse.

I'm not doing an engine swap. I don't have the space and am missing several bits of equipment, and would have to strip down the existing unit to transfer ancillary components and do a bunch of preventative service work in the middle of the front lawn.

1. Not fun in December.
2. My neighbours across the road (who we do get along with - only ones around us we really know at all) already put up with enough of my nonsense.

Dropping the sump is about 80% as much work as pulling the engine, so we're not going down that road. Plus just being completely honest, these are jobs that quite simply I do not *want* to do and therefore have zero enthusiasm for.

If someone wants to take it on as a project, two grand and it's probably yours. Taking quite a substantial hit there, but I'm conscious that I'm selling it with a known engine problem and budgeting somewhere around a grand to sort that.


Jag definitely needs a new battery, it's obvious having tried to charge it that we've lost a cell. Been on charge overnight, however dim dash lights and nothing but a 1/2 second lazy churn of the starter before click-click-click when I went to start it. Haven't had a chance to pick it up this week, but we'll be making a run to Costco this weekend anyway so will grab one then.



I've decided to see about getting a quote from Chevronics to sort the rear end hydraulics on the BX. It's a fiddly job with a ramp but they know the car and the quick ways to do things. Crawling around in my front garden trying to drop the subframe just doesn't sound like a barrel of laughs. Plus I can get them to give the whole car a once over and provide me with a proper to do list.
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Re: Today I mostly .....

Post by Zelandeth » Sat Dec 11, 2021 11:09 pm

The first few web searches, including the lookup system on Tanya's website, suggested that a 096 battery is correct for the XJ-S, so is what I picked up.

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Was no point comparing to the one in the car as I knew it was well under sized - hence my "creative" solution to getting enough travel in the tie down frame to actually make it fit.

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Turns out they're speaking nonsense. No way will a 096 fit in here, it's the best part of an inch wider than the battery tray. D'oh!

Cue a bit of head scratching...before I nicked the battery I stuck in the BX about 8 months ago. That's a 027 which while still a little smaller than what I imagine Jag intended (which I'm thinking now is probably a 075), is a far better fit. It sits snugly in the tray and the tie down fits properly without needing to faff about with spacers. Meant I could actually get the lid fitted properly for the first time since I've had the car.

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The battery tray in the BX is huge on account of the diesel variants so the 096 dropped in there just fine and looks like it was meant to be there - even if it's grossly overrated for a humble 1.4 petrol, but we're not going to complain. Especially with the car not being used regularly.

I put it on charge overnight on account of the BX sitting unused a lot, but even beforehand it span the engine over far faster than the one previously in the car ever did. Also while out for a run the voltmeter stayed pretty much smack in the middle the whole time without sagging anywhere near as much at idle...so I think that was half our problem. Dying battery took out a weak alternator regulator? Or dying alternator killed the battery? We will probably never know.

The battery that csme out definitely has a shorted cell. Sitting rock steady on 10.8V off charge but using the calibrated battery testing spanner is still sourcing a decent chunk of current - which suggests it can also still sink a decent charge rate, which given that with a lot of kit running I can easily account for about 80% of our old 55A alternator's output in vehicle systems alone isn't going to help anything.

First thing I noticed driving out of our neighborhood on a quick test run...the heater was actually behaving in a sane manner. It continued to do so for the remaining 25 mins or so I was out...and the cruise control worked first try. Have we been fighting off odd gremlins because of a sickly battery for a while? I know that's more of a modern car thing...but let's face it, the XJ-S in a lot of ways *is* a lot more modern than its year of production would suggest.

I had a decent opportunity to give the charging system a good test the following day as I had to make a decent run out of town to pick up some vintage computer hardware. At 150 odd miles round trip this was actually the longest single run I'd probably done in the car since I picked it up. Glad to report that it performed perfectly - and I managed 21.7mpg on that run...a far cry from the 12mpg I manage around Milton Keynes!

For those interested in such things, this is what I was picking up.

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In 1987 this was pretty much the most powerful portable machine you could buy - with pretty much everything you would expect of a conventional desktop PC - including a full size ISA expansion slot. These "portable desktop" machines were something that Toshiba were very good at making, and were quite worthy of note in an era where desktops tended to do desktop things and portables were generally vastly more limited and did very different jobs. The desktop replacement concept became quite commonplace about 15 years later, but in the late 80s/early 90s was quite a novel idea.

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Specs seem positively laughable by today's standards, but this was a powerful machine when it was launched.

Back on topic...

That run was a usefully timed test given that the car was off to a new owner today.

I gave the interior and windscreen a quick clean and loaded up the spares I had into the boot.

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I had originally planned to give the whole car a wash and quick wax - but realised that given the state of the roads and that it had a 400+ mile motorway run coming up that it would be completely pointless.

Definitely a car I will miss. This is definitely one I'm selling because it's the sensible decision than because I want to.

While I would happily have made the trip myself, it's always a bit nerve wracking sending someone.off who's not familiar with the car on a journey that long - especially when it's not had a huge amount of use recently. However the worry was unnecessary as she made it to her new home in Aberdeenshire without incident - well aside from the interior light falling out of the headlining again. Economy on that run was 20.8mpg, which seems perfectly decent to me for a 1700kg 5.3 litre V12 car from the mid 80s.
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Re: Today I mostly .....

Post by Zelandeth » Sat Dec 18, 2021 11:07 pm

Okay...Mercedes is officially for sale.

Photos as of a few days ago. Not prettied up, in her working clothes as she's still being used as the daily.

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Offside rear arch is probably the most outwardly scruffy bit of bodywork. A repair panel for this is included with the car.

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Current mileage, though this will go up a bit as the car is in regular use.

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If you've followed this thread over the last few months you'll know the car.

I bought this car back in the summer with the intention of it being a practical daily which I could carry out a gradual rolling bit of tidying up on - not going to say restoration as that was never really the goal. A tidy working car was.

Sadly it became apparent a short time later that due to historic chronic neglect the top end of the engine had sustained a lot of damage due to oil contamination and/or starvation. The damage to the camshaft is probably the worst I've ever seen on a running engine. Aside from sounding like an 80s Fiesta needing a service she still ran just fine though!

As a spare head was supplied with the car I went ahead and fitted that.

My intention had been to drop the sump so I could inspect the crankshaft and potentially drop in a new set of bearing shells - however I quickly discovered that doing that involves you going about 80% of the way through pulling the engine as there's a huge chassis cross member in the way. So we were taking a gamble.

While the engine is a lot happier now (it's been a little over a thousand miles since the head swap), it's still a bit rattly at high revs and the oil pressure at hot idle is mediocre - though not in itself low enough to be a danger sign apparently.

I'm not convinced that this engine is going to be reliable long term without a bottom end rebuild...and that's something I just am not interested in getting involved in. Nor am I messing about swapping engines. If I could find one for a couple of hundred quid, maybe. Sadly the days of them being cheaply available appear to be in the past, and I'd need to do the work in the middle of my front lawn. My poor neighbors put up with enough as it is without that nonsense! I could be totally wrong and it will still be going strong, rattling away in another 50K miles...but I just don't trust it to not eject the number three con rod through the side of the block without warning halfway down the A5 in rush hour. Milton Keynes being such an aggressively unfriendly place to break down in does fuel that paranoia somewhat.

The bodywork is best described as scruffy but generally solid. Pretty much every panel has some form of dent, rust and or evidence of a prior respray done quickly. However it's not a total rot box and is perfectly respectable from ten paces. At least none of the trim is actually missing as that stuff is expensive to replace these days.

Interior is similarly a bit shabby. Worst parts are the driver's seat where the base has partly collapsed and the bit of trim above the sun visors which has peeled away from the backing at the edges. Aside from oddly the carpet from the offside rear footwell everything is there though.

Vital bits of info:

[] 163K miles - will continue to go up a bit as the car is still being used.

[] MOT to April (20th if I remember right).

[] Potential bottom end engine issues as described above.

[] Gearbox goes from second to third with quite a jolt, especially when cold but otherwise seems to behave.

[] Exhaust has a couple of leaks in the front section. Pattern section is about £70 on eBay, or I was quoted £700 for a full stainless system by a local specialist. Whole system is £350 direct from Mercedes as a third option.

[] Boot struts don't work.

[] Central locking only works for a few minutes after shutting the engine off due to a vacuum leak somewhere, just haven't got to investigating that. Most likely candidate is the fuel filler flap lock.

[] Fuel leak when the tank is brimmed from the gauge sender as the gasket has dissolved. Keep meaning to see if I can get to it without dropping the tank.

[] Could do with a set of rear springs as they creak over larger bumps.

[] Full set of UniRoyal Rainexpert tyres fitted a couple of months ago.

[] Passenger side heater temperature control is jammed - though you can still adjust it from the valve in the engine bay so nowhere near as big a deal as it could be.

[] The boot is large enough that it should need its own post code.

These were all the sorts of things I was planning on picking away at, getting deeply involved in the mechanical side just wasn't in the plan and I just don't have the kit or space to get any deeper into than I have at the moment.

£2500 and it's yours. Which if you have taken a look at the market for an S123 with a current MOT, even a slightly shabby one, is pretty cheap.

I'd just far rather move the car on now while it's a running driving concern rather than having to do this if something did go awry with the engine at a later date.

Car is located in Central Milton Keynes.

I MAY consider a swap/px for another large estate or similar. What I *want* is an early XJ Cherokee, but don't expect to find one I can afford...

-- -- --

Not really been much else going on to be honest. Had TPA out and about again a few days ago when I needed to make a run out to Northampton.

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Did get spotted while on the outward journey, resulting in a rare photo of TPA actually in motion which is nice to see.

Link to Facebook Post. Sorry, not sure how to link to the image directly, I really don't use Facebook for much.

Shame the photo wasn't of the return journey which was down the M1...that really would have messed with folk's heads. Was really nice to get her out for a decent run again, had been a while.
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Re: Today I mostly .....

Post by Zelandeth » Thu Dec 23, 2021 10:44 pm

Had an opportunity to activate test out the SLS setup on the S123 yesterday when we did a run to the recycling centre. Prior to startup she was sitting like this after loading.

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Then 30 seconds or so after the engine was started.

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Yep, that works then.

Don't want to know how much weight I had crammed in there...Was quite a lot of heavy metal stuff like old brake discs, the knackered old cylinder head and four old car batteries.

I could have gone up further, but I knew if I had much more in there I'd never get everything out in the 15 minute slot they give you. I barely managed as it was.

This evening I discovered a job for tomorrow while I was out running some errands.

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At least it's only a 30 second job on this car.

To be fair I usually change the headlight lamps when I get a car, never did that on this one.
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Re: Today I mostly .....

Post by Zelandeth » Sun Jan 02, 2022 10:21 pm

New car collection preparation checklist:

[] Money transferred, check.

[] Insurance, sorted. Bit more expensive than the Merc, but I expected that.

[] Address confirmed for collection.

[] Collection vehicle fuelled up, check.

...Would have had the actual owner transfer done if it weren't for the amazing automated computer system the DVLA has which only keeps office hours, so that and the tax will have to be done in the morning.

We aim to be on the road by 0900 tomorrow, about a 3.5 hour drive there...Wish me luck with the motorway traffic gods...
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Re: Today I mostly .....

Post by Zelandeth » Mon Jan 03, 2022 7:22 pm

Full report tomorrow. Right now I've got a grade 8.2 out of 10 headache that's threatening to turn into a migraine so am going to go hide somewhere cool, dark and horizontal until it subsides.

Can't really give a tour just now as it's pitch dark outside. However thanks to the magic of this camera, here's a brief intro.

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Initial observations though are that it drives really incredibly well.

The SDi seems to have a reputation for being slower than a wet week, however it seems absolutely fine to me. It's not a fast car, no. Equally though it doesn't feel even remotely sluggish. Didn't have any issue at all holding 70 on the motorway without needing to drop a gear or anything.
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Re: Today I mostly .....

Post by Zelandeth » Wed Jan 05, 2022 12:58 am

So, what have I found, having had a chance to look over the...car? Van? It's half of one, half of another... we're just going to say "car" for the sake of simplicity.

Overall initial assessment so far is that it's pretty much as expected. Cosmetically challenged in a few areas but fundamentally sound underneath it all.

Let's start with the usual walk round photos.

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The only bit of rust which has me slightly concerned is the bit immediately below the window over the cab.

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I have a horrible feeling that if I start digging at that we're going to have a hole to deal with. Properly sorting *that* would then require removal of both the front and rear headliners. I'll obviously be doing a bit of investigation, sanding it back, attacking it with Vactan then paint it for now.

Interior isn't too bad, needs a good clean and I've a few things to sort, but for a vehicle which has always earned its keep it's not bad at all.

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Thankfully this just pre-dates the point at which VW switched over to using concrete for their seats, so they're quite comfortable actually.

Rear seats are a bit cramped, but will be absolutely fine for short trips which are the most likely thing they'll be used for 99% of the time.

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That interia reel on the floor is part of the original seatbelt lashing arrangement so could be removed just a couple of bolts and could easily be refitted later if needed. Would be nice to get it out of the way of people's ankles given room is already pretty limited.

Strange sitting so high up, you kind of look down into the cab a good foot or so above the driver.

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Will surprise precisely no one that the pop out side windows appear to leak.

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Hopefully a good clean and treatment of the seals will sort that out.

The rear door seals could do with a bit of a refresh too. This will explain why the cabin fills up with exhaust fumes if you have a window open.

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This is the real reason for buying this though. Having two pretty large dogs, this is about as perfect a setup as I could ask for. The rear two wheelchair lashing eyes even are perfectly placed to hook their travel harnesses to (via suitable leads with elastic to absorb the shock during an emergency stop).

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I'm thinking I might make a panel to drop in over the dropped floor section so they have a bit more width, and it could also make a handy covered storage area. Lack of anywhere really out of the way of prying eyes is a bit of a drawback to vans with a lot of glass like this.

It's a layout which just lends itself to being a really, really *useful* vehicle.

Words can't quite express how much I'm looking forward to attacking this engine bay with a couple of gallons of degreaser and the pressure washer.

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That said, it's an honest looking engine bay and there's no hugely obvious bodges that are immediately apparent.


So let's make a start on the to do list.

One thing I immediately noticed the moment I started the van yesterday was that the idle tended to hunt a bit, especially when cold.




Which was also accompanied by a tendency for a bit of white smoke to be visible occasionally when you come off the throttle. It's definitely fuel related, not coolant based on the smell.

Took me about thirty seconds to spy a likely cause for the fuel system having a bit of a hard time with the engine running.



If you look carefully you can just see there are air bubbles in the feed line to the fuel pump.

An obvious suspect is this fuel line on the suction side of the pump which is very obviously perished and kind of squishy.

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They're all a bit crusty looking, so I think they will get replaced along with the fuel filter. I've picked up everything for a routine service today anyway, so that will be done soon.

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There was an advisory on the MOT for the SRS warning lamp not lighting. As the space for the radio was still empty it was easy to get to the back of...sure enough it was unplugged.

Plugging it back in and turning the ignition on resulted in it lighting up as it should...

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Then after a couple of seconds, somewhat to my surprise, going out, exactly as it should do. Has continued to do so all afternoon too...so if that's sorted it I'll call that a win.

Next task was an obvious one...

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Getting audio set up. I'd actually asked the seller to take their head unit out as having only just bought this one and just about learned my way around it I'd rather stick with it.

Helpfully it's one of those which you can customise the colours of, so can match it perfectly to the dash lighting.

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Speakers in there are pretty decent actually, nice not to have to mess around upgrading those for a change.

Which is where I left it today, as I'd clearly run out of daylight!

Next thing I need to investigate is the temperature control for the heater. As is basically standard for this control assembly the cable has snapped off the back of it. So the heater is currently adjusted by pushing or pulling a cable sitting in the dash cubby hole. Which rattles. A lot. If nothing else it'll get relocated to one of the switch blanks above there to stop it rattling so much! Hopefully while I'm in there I can see if I can sort the illumination for the heater controls as currently none of that works.

Not really going to have much time over the next few days, but I'll no doubt find a few minutes here and there to do something.

Overall though I'm really happy with it so far. Was exactly as I expected based on the description I was given and is something I should be able to improve on nicely. Really does drive nicely too.
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Re: Today I mostly .....

Post by Zelandeth » Wed Jan 05, 2022 8:04 pm

First accomplishment of today was figuring out a way to stop the heater cable from rattling...it can be wedged in the handle of the ash tray.

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Not a permanent solution, but will save it from driving me insane until I can properly sort it.

Having a slightly more in depth look under the bonnet than yesterday I spotted a couple of things amiss.

Firstly, looking at the radiator something just didn't look right. How the top hose was sitting was what really drew my attention to it initially.

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A little poking and head scratching revealed that it should actually be sitting more like this.

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The top brackets appear to have either fallen apart of are totally missing. Strange.

I deployed a highly technical cable tie to pull it closer to the right spot until I can properly Investigate and resolve that...has at least got some clearance between the top radiator hose and fan shroud now, this was previously touching.

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On the other side the shroud had worn quite a deep groove in one of the air conditioning lines too, this now has a bit of actual clearance.

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Will need to see if there is any gas in there whatsoever soon. I suspect not.

Then I noticed this.

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That's the state the main line coming off the vacuum pump was in. That's not going to be doing anything any favours, especially as at the very least the actuator for the EGR system is vacuum controlled, and there are lines running off to several bits and pieces around the engine bay.

Ten minutes later it looked like this instead.

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Sorting this appears to have completely eliminated the hunting idle, the ever present smell of diesel and obvious white smoke on the overrun/light throttle openings. It has also made the throttle response far smoother, so that leak was definitely causing issues for a few things. Likewise the brakes definitely feel stronger now, so I think the servo was also struggling a bit for vacuum pressure before.

It looks like there was originally a plastic cover that sat over the inlet manifold etc. I'm not too bothered about that, as it's one less thing to remove for service access - if I come across one though I'll probably replace it just because I know it should be there. Definitely at the bottom of the priority list though.

While I was in the area I changed the air filter. Old one wasn't too bad so had definitely been done in the last couple of years, but for the sake of a few quid it's on my annual-ish list. Especially on a normally aspirated diesel where getting as much air into the engine as possible is always a priority!

Nice to have got a couple of small jobs ticked off which have had a noticeable impact on the driving experience.
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Re: Today I mostly .....

Post by Zelandeth » Fri Jan 07, 2022 12:04 am

Not much to report today. Had to take my husband to a hospital appointment this morning, so have confirmed that cold starting doesn't seem to be an issue for the Caddy, even at -4C that we had today, and oddly is the coldest we've seen this winter so far. All despite the rather old looking Lion branded battery, which I'd generally trust about as far as I can throw it.

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I think the best I've ever got out of one of their batteries before was about 18 months, so I'm already mentally budgeting for having to replace that at short notice at some point.

This temperature also meant I was surprised to find that for the first time since I think 2009, I have a car with a full compliment of working rear window defroster elements.

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Luxury!

Something which become extremely vocally apparent during that trip though was that the wiper blades were past it. Cleared the screen okay, but unless it was absolutely saturated wanted to jump, skip, judder, squeak and generally make a nuisance of themselves. I did clean them as they didn't look all that old, did help but not by much. So a new set went on.

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This restored quiet and calm to the cabin while driving in the persistent drizzle which we've had here all afternoon.

Not an exciting update today!
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Re: Today I mostly .....

Post by Zelandeth » Wed Jan 12, 2022 2:08 am

Few updates in one...

-- -- --

Cleaning time has begun for the new arrival.

Interior only as I'm currently without a pressure washer - and they've literally just driven past our house and dumped about five tonnes of salt on each of the roads in our neighborhood so it would be pretty pointless.

Looking forward to dealing with the likes of this though...

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Really will be better for a good scrub up. Plus there's about three quarters of a forest worth of leaves in the windscreen scuttle.

While the exterior is a task for another day, the interior looks a bit better for an hour's work this afternoon.

The dash plastics in particular were really dull and lifeless. There's a very clear line where I'd got to visible here.

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The seats really want to come out so I can give the carpets a proper scrub, and the seats would really benefit from a wet clean themselves too. Both jobs which will be waiting on warmer and drier weather.

I did note that both front footwells are a bit damp - I'm not reading too far into that though until I've cleared out the scuttle drains as given the amount of organic matter under there they're almost definitely clogged up. The headlining would also benefit from a deep clean - that will need to come out to deal with the rust at the base of the window over the cab anyway so those things will probably happen at the same time.

Only other item of note done today was getting the fuel filter and the feed lines attached to it replaced. Simple enough job.

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Think I'm going to go back and do the ones on the return too, just didn't have enough hose clamps to go round today (I despise those spring type ones with a passion - especially the ones VW use as they have really tiny tabs on so are nigh on impossible to get hold of if you don't have the proper tool). Given I was able to pull the one on the feed side straight off, the hose had obviously been squashed enough under the hose clip that it was no longer doing anything.

One of the O-rings on the return line stub was cracked, so definitely think this was due changing.

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Hopefully this will put a stop to air being pulled into the fuel system. Time will tell I guess.

-- -- --

Having run out of daylight yesterday today's quick task was oil & filter change.

Set the oil draining, then realised something...the Caddy is modern enough to have one of these strange plastic caps over the oil filter.

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...Which I've never had to deal with before. After wasting half an hour trying to get it unscrewed without the right tools I gave up and went round to Halfords and grabbed one of these.

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Even with the right tool, holy hell that was tight. I wound up basically hanging my bodyweight off the thing before it eventually started to very slowly come loose. No way it was coming off without the special tool for it.

I then made a horrible mess and spilled oil everywhere when lifting the old filter out.

New one in - which helpfully has the top marked as I didn't realise they weren't symmetrical until after I'd put the old one down and lost track of the rotation.

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New filter also comes with new O-rings for both the cap itself and the feed tube assembly which drops down through the middle of the filter. I made a definite point of lubricating the outer seal with fresh engine oil before reassembling. Tightening it precisely as much as necessary to snug the seal up and a smidge more. Hopefully I won't have such a fight to get the cap off next time round.

The old oil smelled quite strongly of diesel and seemed quite watery (it is 5W40 though so not all that thick anyway), which isn't a huge surprise given the van was chucking clouds of unburned fuel out the back on the overrun because of that vacuum leak I found a couple of days back. By no means the worst I've seen, but it was definitely ready for a change.

New set of floor mats have also been thrown into the cabin to tidy the floors up a bit.

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I may get a set of properly shaped ones ordered at some point, but these at least seem to stay put. The rubber ones that were in there before had virtually no grip on the carpet and I'd nearly died getting into the driver's seat about half a dozen times because of that, so these are an improvement in that department.

Hard to believe I've done just over 500 miles in this thing already! Still thoroughly enjoying driving it too.

-- -- --

This afternoon I decided to have a look at the key to see if I could do anything to tidy it up. I also wanted to get into it to confirm if it had an immobiliser chip in or not so I knew which type of spare to order. Currently I only have the one key and that's always a recipe for stress in my mind.

The key looked like this...which is why I was determined to try to tidy it up a bit.

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The fact that the tape was decomposing and sticking to every bit of pocket lint (or in this house, the omnipresent dog hair) was also rendering this high on my to do list.

Like a complete and utter idiot I didn't wear gloves while pulling this to bits...and of course the mixture of electrical tape and duct tape had both well and truly started to decompose into the stickiest goo known to human kind. Said goo is now all over my hands, desk, keyboard, mouse, phone, probably in my hair - and all over everything within about a 500 metre radius. Rookie mistake.

Oddly when I pulled it apart I couldn't see anything wrong...all three bits of the assembly click together firmly, and the flexible membrane on the side with the remote buttons on isn't split.

Testing the two CR2016 cells showed they were both fine, so I just reassembled everything after a good clean. Oh, and yes it appears the van does have an immobiliser as there's a chip in there.

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Sure enough, the light on the key did flash when buttons were pressed...so I went out and walked through the key synchronisation routine, resulting in...



We appear to have fully functional remote central locking again.

I'll take that as a win!

Though I did notice this mess in the engine bay when doing a check for oil leaks following the change yesterday...

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Which is moderately concerning. I know this van did at one point have an aftermarket alarm (which doesn't appear to function), so I wonder if this was a result of a refusal to shut up one time to often - the loom tape does make it look different to the main vehicle loom, which is why my first thought was alarm. I will definitely be checking to ensure there's not power there shortly.
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Re: Today I mostly .....

Post by Zelandeth » Fri Jan 14, 2022 1:11 am

Taking a closer look at that wiring mess reveals the tail is attached to the aftermarket alarm sounder...so that's definitely thoroughly dead then. Good thing I erred on the side of "I don't think so" when asked by the insurance company if it had an alarm. I'll pull that out then and see if I can find the other end of this to at least confirm that there's no power going to it.

Yay, I get to stand on my head under a dashboard again!

On the running theme of seeing if I can get vehicle systems back up and running I made a run over to Formula 1 in Newport Pagnell so this could happen.

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While the AC system was totally flat when I got the van I had noted on my first inspection that both service caps were loose, plus the condenser looks way newer than 20 years and 100K miles...have to wonder if a new one was fitted at some point and they just never bothered gassing it up? I still have a bottle with some dregs of dry nitrogen from goodness only knows how many years ago, which in its last gasp shoved around 40psi into this system a few days ago. Checking this morning showed the pressure hadn't visibly dropped. Having something in there had also allowed me to check that the compressor clutch worked and the compressor ran - albeit only for a couple of seconds as I had no idea if there was any oil left in the system.

It was a tense 30 minutes while the system ran the vacuum decay test (which basically is a leak check to see whether any air leaks back into it) was carried out - zero decay reported. Which says the system should hopefully be gas tight. It also shows it's reasonably dry (as water boiling off from the drier core etc would result in a *small* bit of vacuum decay).

Machine was happy with all of the tests and charged properly. Real test was going to be starting up, pushing the button and seeing what happened.

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I should really have had a camera pointing at the service gauges to video it, but suffice to say they behaved exactly as expected.

It's a bit hard to tell you'd think when it's all of 6C outside, but the system was definitely working. Suction line definitely got cold and there was heat quickly apparent on the liquid line. Definitely colder than ambient air coming out the vents too... exactly what we were after. No nasty noises from the compressor (that I can hear over the rattle of an SDi idling next to it anyway...though I'd by lying if I didn't admit it's a lot more refined than an XUD).

Having working AC should really help me deal with the bit of damp in the cabin. Basically we'll run the heater at "as warm as I can deal with" on recirc with the AC on for a while and see if that helps. As the air con dehumidifies the air passing through it, that will help actively pull water out of the cabin.

Next significant jobs in mind:

[] Exterior clean.

[] Dismantle and clean EGR system as it sure it's thoroughly sooted up. Especially given I've no idea how long that vacuum leak had been playing havoc with things. Can't see any obvious signs of it having been apart before, so it and the intake pipework will be well due a clean if that's the case.

[] Paint front bumper so it looks slightly less scruffy.

Longer term I have an idea in mind regarding the paintwork as a whole...open to inspiration that others might have too though. I'm already finding myself really quite attached to this little van so I'm going to try to make a reasonably tidy job of things. The rust around the window over the cab will be getting sorted and we'll see what we can do for the offside rear quarter too before the aforementioned larger scale paint job too.

What colour do *you* think she should be painted?
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Re: Today I mostly .....

Post by Zelandeth » Mon Jan 17, 2022 2:20 am

Didn't have a huge amount of energy available today as I'm still feeling like death from the booster jab on Friday, nevertheless I was determined to get a few things done.

First up was getting the interior of the S123 back into a presentable state. Calling it clean would be overselling it, but it's a heck of a lot better and I'm not embarrassed by it any more. Sadly attempts to find a working jetwash to do something about the outside were fruitless. Nevertheless, the interior is better at least.

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It's no longer approximately 87% dog hair by volume at least.

Should be off to a new owner in the next couple of days.


Moving onto the Caddy it was time to have a look at the EGR valve to get an idea of how gunked up the system was.

By the standards of most modern cars it's thankfully pretty easy to get to. The arrow is pointing at the vacuum actuator rather than the valve itself, but you get the idea.

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Given the position of the securing collar I don't reckon it's ever been off. However the innards weren't anywhere near as bad as I was expecting.

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Yes it's pretty grim, but I'm not unused to seeing these things totally choked solid on far newer vehicles.

Probably about 0.5mm worth of caked on gunk the whole way round.

The other side of the valve is more disgusting as it's sticky, tarry crap as the PCV system feeds into the EGR circuit right next to the valve. I did dig an appreciable amount of gunge out of the valve body, but it definitely wasn't totally choked nor did it seem to be sticky.

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I'd also been able to confirm that the valve is sealing completely and consistently when closed.

Reassembled everything...and absolutely no difference. Very slightly surging engine speed still there (it does exactly the same at any engine speed I found, regularly once a second), along with excessive smoke on light throttle.

Definitely have vacuum at the EGR valve, and you can hear it physically snap shut if you pull the vacuum line off. It however doesn't really have any noticeable effect on the running of the engine either way.

One thing I did notice is that when this behaviour is present, the rev counter also behaves slightly erratically, randomly twitching upwards from the actual engine speed - and it seems to do it more when on the throttle than off.

Then out of nowhere, the engine completely smooths out. The note deepens (because the flap on the intake, which I assume works in partnership with the EGR valve is now fully open), and the diesel clatter becomes a little sharper, so something has obviously changed - I'm guessing with the injection timing. Checking the EGR at that point shows there's no vacuum present, so the ECU isn't calling for the EGR system to be in operation. It's also noteworthy that after this point when things decide to behave that the rev counter twitching also stops I'm increasingly convinced these two symptoms are connected in some way.

So I don't think the EGR valve is the cause of this issue...bit it's definitely *involved* in it. Think the next step really will be to find someone locally with VCDS and get a look at some real-time data. Everything being fly-by-wire here makes guessing pretty pointless... imagine on a newer car we'd have a check engine light illuminated - but this car doesn't have one!

The rev counter misbehaving being clearly tied into it is making me think camshaft/crankshaft position sensors? Or however else the ECU gets the engine speed/position data...makes sense though if there's a disparity between the requested and reported engine speed, it would throw the fuelling all to hell.

Think it's likely been like this for a while so I'm not worried about it really, but I'll be damned if I'm not going to try to get to the bottom of it. Especially as the van drives so much nicer when this fault is staying out of the way.

We got any SDi experts on here?

Oh...and I've ordered a replacement engine cover. Looks quick and easy to fit/remove unlike many, so I'm not adverse to its being there.

Something which may well be getting changed in the not too distant future - which is a shame as they're only a year old - is the tyres. I had to brake moderately hard to avoid a suicidal pigeon this afternoon and discovered that these tyres really aren't great on a cold, damp road. Also the front ones have way more grip than the rears...great, aside from when all four wheels lock up, then the front regains grip well before the rear - which by then has started to try to overtake the front. It was a moderately firm braking manoeuvre, but I didn't expect quite *that* degree of upset. Even the big van would have been okay.

Methinks some Uniroyal rubber may be in the future. I will get the tracking checked in the meantime though - not least because the steering wheel is slightly off straight and means I can't see about 2/3rds of the warning lights on the dash when driving straight ahead. Bit of a daft design there from VW. Likewise the switchgear most of which is hidden behind the steering wheel.
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Re: Today I mostly .....

Post by Zelandeth » Tue Jan 18, 2022 2:23 am

This surging behaviour seriously has me intrigued. Managed to catch it doing it again today and got a better video properly catching it.



This clearly shows how it's essentially a regular "blip" approximately once a second that happens irrespective of the engine speed - and that during this behaviour she chucks out a shedload of smoke.

You can always *smell* that something is off when it's doing this, the smell from the exhaust lingers for ages. If you're in a car following it, it makes your eyes water apparently.

Physically disabling the EGR valve by removing and plugging the vacuum line to the actuator has no effect. I know the valve is moving as you can clearly hear it snap open or closed - and it sealed well enough that carb cleaner wasn't even seeping through the orifice while I was cleaning it yesterday. So I think the valve itself is innocent.

However if I unplug the *electrical* connection to the solenoid valve which controls said valve, the problem completely goes away. Idle immediately smooths out perfectly (it sounds to me like the injection timing or duration also changes as the engine note itself does change too), you hear the throttle valve in the intake snap fully open, and the throttle response becomes perfectly smooth through the whole rev range - and we see absolutely zero smoke aside from the expected tiny initial puff of black if you absolutely boot it, and that's not enough to be visible in the headlights of a following car. Also notable that any noticeable smell completely vanishes too...it just smells like an early 00s diesel VW.

Now I'm sure unplugging that would trigger an engine management light if I had one and I'm sure will have logged a fault code, and disabling an emission control device like this is illegal, so it's not a permanent fix...however it provides me with useful data to add to my diagnostic process and *definitely* puts the van in a less polluting state while I get to the bottom of the root cause. You've seen the cloud if you've watched the video above!

I need to make my reading today working out exactly what the sequence of operation is for the various bits of the emission control system on this engine and how the various parts interact with each other. I get the impression that understanding how that lot works will shed some light on what might be happening.

Decided that the Caddy could have a day off as errand running workhorse today.

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Which went absolutely fine until I heard a suspicious "ding" at one point and saw something small and round disappearing into oblivion behind me.

When I eventually found somewhere safe to pull over, the cause didn't take long to find.

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Ah. That's sub optimal. The air filter element was still present, wedged between the chassis and suspension arm thankfully (as they're surprisingly expensive), however the cover plate and wing nut are long gone. Even if I could spot it, as with so much of MK there's nowhere safe to pull over to retrieve it safely as it's on a 70mph dual carriageway with no pedestrian provision even vaguely nearby. So I'll need to find a replacement. Thankfully it's a bit of standard Steyr-Puch engine rather than a bespoke bit of Invacar so shouldn't be difficult to track one down, even if it may mean getting a whole new air cleaner assembly.

Guess we need to add "check air filter element retaining wing nut is tight" to the weekly checklist!
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Re: Today I mostly .....

Post by Zelandeth » Wed Jan 19, 2022 1:30 am

Today's automotive task:

Get rid of this bodgery behind the heater controls in the Caddy.

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This is a close up of the broken bit of plastic on the back of the heater control assembly.

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Which SHOULD look like this.

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Thankfully as I expected the base units are identical, just mine has a few extra bits on being from an AC equipped car.

Mine:

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New (used) one:

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Underneath:

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These (plus the white plastic lamp cover I later realised) are what need to be transferred over - and the faceplate obviously.

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The greenish plastic thing in the middle is the light pipe which illuminates the indicators in the AC/Recirc buttons green when the headlights are on and the controls are off.

It needs to sit in front of the main light pipe assembly, but thankfully that unclips easily enough.

The one on the right illuminates the legends on the aforementioned buttons...and getting that sucker into position here is a royal faff, especially as you're acutely aware of what a tiny, fragile bit of plastic it is.

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Really glad I had the sense to photograph the order these sat in before pulling anything apart.

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This is what the top of the switch assembly looks like.

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Whole new unit back together now with my AC specific bits added.

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I initially didn't realise that the white lamp housing is slightly different, as the AC specific one is slightly shorter to allow it to fit over the additional light pipes.

The part numbers are different, confirming I wasn't just being daft.

AC one:

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Non-AC one:

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Though if you're doing this job you've likely got a complete but broken assembly in front of you anyway, so really not an issue. If robbing bits for an AC conversion though worth knowing you do need it.

After a small amount of swearing at cables (they are *precisely* as long as they *need* to be). I wouldn't be at all surprised if that's a large part of how that bit got snapped in the first place. Wouldn't be hard to put a load of strain on there when installing a stereo or routing any wiring behind the dash.

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Having all four mounting lugs now present both the heater controls and the black surround on the front of the dash is far more secure.

While I was in there I pulled the cigarette lighter out to replace the failed lamp in that.

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That has to be one of the most frustratingly difficult to access lamp holders I have ever come across. I did eventually though manage to extract and replace the lamp. Result being (finally) all of the dash illumination working.

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Albeit with a moderately annoying amount of light leakage from the vicinity of the cigarette lighter. It really needs some assistance in the light-tightness department.

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Next interior target will be the offside outer heater vent which is missing a large chunk of itself.

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Which I have a suspicion will end up coming from the same breakers I just got the heater control panel from. I'll probably do the headlight control panel too as it's not securely fitted, I'm assuming because a mounting tab has broken or something like that behind it. The little storage cubby for documents under the dash being screwed shut with self-tappers may make it onto the list too as I can't unsee that now!

Small steps, but nice to have fully working heater controls again without needing a cable sticking out under the dash. For the sake of £12 of parts and maybe an hour of time, hard to say no really.
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Re: Today I mostly .....

Post by Zelandeth » Sat Feb 19, 2022 10:34 pm

Wasn't I meant to be rid of things in the garage rather than adding to the clutter?

I appear to have accidentally entirely deliberately added to the collection of tools in there I need to find homes for.

Oops.

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Hardly the last word in sophistication and the build quality wouldn't last five minutes in a commercial setting, but it doesn't feel cheap or flimsy so should do just fine for occasional light use. Not a tool I see getting a huge amount of use, but has the potential to be a real time (and frustration) saver occasionally. Sadly horizontal rain meant I didn't have the opportunity to test it out today. For the price it seems absolutely reasonable. My brain still can't quite grasp plasma cutters being something that the average home hobbyist mechanic could even consider owning...in my head they're still massively expensive high tech things only seen in shiny multi million pound professional workshops. Being able to pick one up for £150 new seems like madness.
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Current fleet: 02 VW Caddy 1.9SDI, 90 Mercedes 208D Autotrail Navajo, 85 Sinclair C5, 73 AC Model-70.

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