Friday, 27 August 2010

Its only been four years, but it feels like a lifetime

Working things out, think it is 4 years this weekend since Bitsa hit the roads, having passed its first MOT in my ownership (I bascially built it from a pile of parts centred round an early SIII 109" SW).

To celibrate, here are 5 previously unpublished photos from the archives, of "early Bitsa".

1) Just before the MOT, August 06. I was trying to get the brakes set up as part as the final push to a test.
The clasic car thats just visible in the background is my old grey rover P4, ASJ 314.

2) This was January 07, and I was out laning, photo probably taken by Twm Ford, while I was trying to turn round on very rutted bit of lane.

3) March 07, out laning again, a few days before I moved to England from Wales. I had painted one with a tin of what claimed to be limestone, and decided I didn't like the way it looked before I got round to painting the other side. By this point the mileage was racking up very fast - note the amount of road dirt on the rear tub quarter panels. I still didn't own a tailgate, I think one was relayed to me that weekend.

4) August 07, and time is nearly up for the original incarnation. Now respendant in midnight blue, I was busy oiling the springs, hence the ramp under the front wheels. I was already running on veg oil, and commuting 40 miles a day, this lasted until I went on holiday, and the engine decided that cold starts on veg oil weren't on and died about 10 days before the MOT was up.

After that, it ended up parked up for over a year, before being stripped down and rebuilt again.

Saturday, 21 August 2010

Wow... that makes a change.

I don't post often about "Project Rust", my Series 1, as its all supposed to be written up for LRM at some point.

However, today while fooling about in the workshop an event occurred so remarkable I think I've got to blog about it...

Yes, this is Project Rust's steering relay, and its out of the chassis. No heat, no jacks, no hammers... I merely unbolted it, stuck a screwdriver under one of the mounting flanges and yanked. How good is that? (this will probably be the first and last time in my life I ever manage this trick).

Maybe the whole thing is just feeling contrite for smacking me really hard in the chest with a sharp bit of chassis yesterday. It seems if you lift a chassis with an engine crane, and the only thing left holding the front axle on is a brake flexi pipe you forgot to cut, the chassis doesn't half take off at a rate of knots when the pipe finally breaks... just a pity I was stood in the way... it still hurts 24 hours later.

Wednesday, 18 August 2010

A lot more go

Bitsa had been getting hard to start, the MPG's have been abysmal, and performance sluggish.

This sounded like poor timing, so I've advanced the injection timing quite a lot. The result is a lot better - it starts instantly, and goes like stink compared to before. Time will tell if the MPG improves, but I'd be amazed if it doesn't - on the way back from Aber last week at a steady 65mph on the motorway she was barely returning 20mpg.

I'm not sure how the timing had ended up out - it used to start OK, and there was no evidence of slippage with the pump timing bolts.

While I was doing these sort of things, I pulled off the front pulley which had developed the worrying ability to rotate about 30deg relative to the crank, and found to my relief the damage was severe wear to the keyway slot on the pulley, rather than a chunk missing from the crankshaft. It seems the Sherpa crank (my engine was rebuilt with one after the disaster with the original crank) has a fractionally shorter nose bolt than a tdi, and the Tdi bolt I'd fitted had bottomed out in the hole when tightened, rather than gripping the front pulley. I've fitted some extra washers to hold the bolt further out( dead grinder cutting disks proved ideal), which seems to have solved the problem.

I think the next party trick is going to have to be looking at replacing the front brake shoes again - the Mintex shoes that I fitted at easter seem to have glazed, and stopping is getting to be a fraction unsatisfactory. I begin to understand why people pay money for disk brake conversions... (I won't, I'm too tight). That and getting that wretched 3.54 diff stuck in the back, before the engine dies of a diet of motorway speeds and high mileages. (I was going to swap the offending diff in a few weeks ago, but as is often the way with life things didn't work out, and I ended up reinstalling windows for someone on their computer that afternoon instead).

Thursday, 5 August 2010

SVO - the downsides

Well, the great SVO experiment continues.

The engine runs quiet smoothly on SVO, but it is noticeably down on power when its cold. Once its warmed up, it seems Ok, if fractionally down on 'go'.

In the usual SVO way, its done the usual trick of clogging a filter with junk dredged from the tank - I drove to Buxton and back last night, and it was really struggling on the long climbs with fuel starvation.

I've fitted a new filter now, so hopefully the run down to Wales tonight should be fairly painless.

Wednesday, 4 August 2010

So smooth...

I did one of those little niggling jobs this evening - putting a new exhaust downpipe/manifold gasket on. I'm a bit shocked by the effects - I've had 3 weeks of driving with quite a bad blow from the joint, and the sudden silence and smoothness feel's very Roll-Royce compared to the rather industrial tractor roar that had previously been there when booting the throttle.

The uses for ratchet straps are never-ending, this weeks trick is using them to hold the cab down while getting the bolts at the back in, after changing the wrecked back panel for one that actually has a full set of glass and isn't falling to bits. It also has a proper seal at the bottom, and the bolts(spring shackle bolts, with spreader plates, through the hoodstick holes) wouldn't quite thread together with the extra height the seal represented. Ratchet strapping the cab down was sufficient to get the bolts through and done up properly.

Tuesday, 3 August 2010

Off to Aberystwyth... what will break this time?

I'm off on my holidays on Thursday night... the usual week in Aberystwyth. I'm pondering what's going to break this time - 3 years ago it was the injector pump, last year the exhaust sheared off on the manifold... I don't think Bitsa likes Aberystwyth.

Before I go, I've still a few niggling jobs, to do - a new exhaust gasket to stop it blowing, changing the truck-cab back for one that has windows, and ideally running a new headlight earth in an effort to reinvigorate the current rather enfeebled glow-worms that are fitted.

I'm still having success with SVO, although cold starts at about 60% SVO are proving a little interesting. It takes a few seconds of foot to the floor after turning the key before it will rev, then it splutters badly as it revs up for 10 seconds, then its fine. During this operation, a cloud of dense blue grey smoke emerges, which hangs over the area for some time after Bitsa has left the scene. Power is noticeably down for the first mile or two, but once the engine is up to temperature its fine.

I've now got a leaking underseat fill fuel tank, thanks to DocMorris, so next mission it to graft the top of that onto a good normal tank. Hopefully Being able to see into the tank should make it rather easier to sort out what blend of fuel is in there...