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Joined: Dec 30 2015
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Pictures to follow, but had my first experience in nearly 14 years of P38 ownership of turning up back at home on the back of a recovery truck last night...

Driving home from work last night and get a "whump" sound and then alternator light come on... Immediately know the drive belt has failed ( it had been looking a bit worn and actually had a new one turn up with some other bits yesterday whilst I was out!), But the cause appears to be something else.

No hard shoulder where I am, and doing 70mph, with now no power steering in the middle of the night.

As I'm looking for a place to pull over safely "pop" in the dash as something catastrophically fails, and suddenly I've got hit coolant pissing all over my foot, and steam everywhere obstructing my view.btemp gauge in the red, you name it... A few choice curse words going on...

Managed to pull off safely into a side road after exiting dual carriageway and called the RAC at 11pm... " We'll be with you soon, but it could be up to 90 minutes". Called back after 85 minutes. "recovery is on the way but he won't be there until between 2am and 3am"

Finally recovered at 2:30am, home just after 3am... Now waiting on a train the Cheltenham as I've got 2 shows to do today, one tomorrow, and then load the show out and train home. Friday will start looking into the damage and see what I'm up against.

It was supposed to be an easy week commuting from home for a change!

First sign is the power steering pump (which was new a few years ago) is shot - the pulley is flapping about, so guessing the bearing in there decided it was unhappy, and shredded the belt, but will update as I find out what's happened.

Needless to say with the overheat, I'm looking at a top end rebuild at least.

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Joined: Dec 30 2015
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Not fun at all but you must have driven quite a way with no water pump for it to overheat. I had the bearing in the tensioner break up on mine a few years ago which threw the belt off rather than shredding it. Fortunately it was just after I'd filled up with fuel and was pulling off the filling station forecourt so could stop immediately.

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Joined: Nov 16 2016
Posts: 737

Few weeks ago the fanbelt came off on my ML, I'd just dropped the missus off at her mums 10 miles away and was on my way back to work with loads of work that had to be finished the same day so was short on time already.. I heard a rattle that sounded a bit like stones thrown up by wheels hitting the underneath of the car but immediately noticed lack of power steering and the alternator light so knew straight away what the noise would have been. Only a few miles from home so I thought keep moving while watching the temp gauge. The temp gauge very quickly rose (just a few hundred yards) but luckily this was just before a layby on the A638 near Redhouse (Doncaster area) just after the dual carriageway section has turned back into single carriageway. Rather than blow the engine causing myself even more problems and still not make it back to base any sooner I stopped in the layby and turned the engine off, popped the bonnet, belt twisted up and only half it's original width but not completely broken. No tools on me but set about trying to put it back on... no chance with the extremely stiff spring tensioner on the ML. AA was with me in 10 minutes and we put the remains of the belt back on together, then he followed me back to base. Haven't had time to touch the ML since!

I once bought a Chrysler Grand Voyager (I've had quite a few of these) just for it's gearbox and a BRC LPG conversion that were on it from somewhere around 30miles away, it had a blown coreplug. I went to collect it prepared with a few 5 gallon drums of water and tools to remove the thermostat, bits and bobs to try to block the core plug hole. Attempted to drive the 30 miles.. winter time so had the heater on (would've had it on anyway to try to keep things cool). Used all my water and then the heater soon stopped working so I knew I was very low on coolant, temp gauge went up to the max and then curiously back to normal even though there was no water left in the engine. Still I kept driving and the engine started sounding very rattly lol. Another mile and it was smoking from the exhaust.. I kept driving lol. Then the inevitable drop of power, pulled onto the hard shoulder and it stalled. Wasn't seized, would crank, but no compression and the engine was dead. Hello RAC.... I never did get time to remove it's gearbox but did remove some other parts including all the gas bits before scrapping it. The injectors are now on Morat's Jeep.

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Joined: Mar 26 2016
Posts: 296

The RAC really are the pits!!! Three and an half hours is rubbish. As you can tell, I hate the RAC lol when I got my current toy, it came with 12 months RAC membership and warranty. I had already been a member of the AA for 20 years. So I had membership of them both. I drove it to Heathrow 6 days after purchase and left it there while we jetted off to sunnier climes. Came home 15 days later, turned onto the M1 homeward bound and the bloody alternator failed.Made it into Scratchwood. Now this was 9pm on a Sunday night. Obviously we had a host of luggage (especially as we had been through Dubai Duty Free lol) Taking it straight to the dealer wasn't an option but I realised I could use the AA to get it home and then the RAC to take it to the dealer. Was picked up from Scratchwood within 30 minutes and taken home. First thing Monday morning I rang the RAC. It took them THREE DAYS to collect the effing car. Every excuse under the sun was used including 'He is stuck in traffic'. Erm, this is Lincolnshire, the only traffic we have here is tractors. Then they charged me £120 because it was at home. Naturally, the dealer reimbursed me although they were seriously fukked off 'because that wasn't part of the deal' they had with the RAC. The RAC then pestered the life out of me trying to get me to renew my membership when the 12 months were up and I ended up being quite 'abusive' to them before they gave up. No complaints about the dealer in this, they had the car repaired and back to me in 24 hours. But I flatly refuse to have anything to do with the RAC now.

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Joined: Jan 05 2016
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An already hot engine is going to spike when the water pump stops under load - and as its a pressurised system, with nowhere to go as the pressure and temp shoot up, inevitably something has to let go. Think of heat soak when you turn off the engine - if mine is hot and I turn the ignition back on (but don't start the engine), the electric fan will usually come on after because the temp has actually gone up before it starts to cool off.

Regardless - as I said to Marty last night, stopping on a dual carriageway in a live lane with no lay-by at any time, especially at night when others aren't likely to be paying as much attention, is definitely not what you want to be doing. Not worth the risk... get to safety and worry about the car later.

Our red RR, that already had a top hat block, was properly cooked errr a year or two back now - I put a thread up about it when I found the rocker pedestal that had split following the roasting. Driver only noticed when it started running lumpy and making funny noises, it got that hot with absolutely no coolant in it... Rebuilt the top end and it has been find ever since.

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Joined: Jul 12 2016
Posts: 857

Another vote for the AA here.

When mine spat all it's coolant out through the front cover gasket they had someone out to me reasonably. They didn't have an actual AA van in the area so contacted the local Land Rover dealer who sent out their man in a van. The dealer was only 10 minutes up the road from where I was.

He wasn't able to fix it and I did end up being towed home which took quite a bit longer. It was the middle of the day on a Saturday so their trucks were fairly busy. I can't complain at the initial response time though and I was very impressed that they got someone else out to me when they knew they couldn't get there quickly themselves.

Any idea yet why you ended up with boiled feet? Sounds like the heater matrix or the pipes going in to it gave way. Shouldn't the pressure release in the header tank cap given in before matrix of the pipes?

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Joined: Dec 30 2015
Posts: 1053

I didn't get a lot of choice as to where I stopped. As I said, there was no hard shoulder by the time I realised what had happened. Then the coolant hose or matrix let go, and I could've even see out the windscreen at 70mph. I saw somewhere to pull off and it was an onramp, and didn't fancy being at the bottom of that, so next safe place was the offramp I chose. I almost switched the engine off as I got to the off ramp, but it was pretty steep and single lane, so couldn't stop on it safely, so had to have power to get to the top. I saw the little side street turn off at the top of it and took that and shut down.

The stretch of the A419 I was on is also nice and straight and people always scream down there at a lot more than 70. If there had even been a soft grass verge I probably would have taken a punt on that, but there was the steel barrier, and didn't really want to be even partly hanging into the live lane.

Rutland Rover... I'm not sure what let go in the dash. I'm guessing the end tank on the heater core has split or a hose came off. Obviously just the weakest point of the system. A load of coolant also got dumped out of the header tank overflow, so that did its job.. there was a nice trail where I had pulled over and puddle underneath.

I haven't had time to look at anything. After I disconnected the battery and secured the vehicle at home, I got my foot in some cold water for a bit and went to bed. It was gone 03:30 by then and I was up at 08:30 to sort out my travel today as I had to be there for mid day, to be ready for a matinee show. I'm here until tomorrow evening, and then I'll see how I feel on Friday, but I might take the knee panel off and see what's happened in the dash. If I can't be bothered, then it can wait until the weekend.

I'm with RAC as it's about the only useful thing I can put my Tesco points towards... Even then it's still about £65/year to make up the difference.

I'll be considering other options... But ultimately RAC contracted the recovery out and it was down to when he was available after his previous drop off. You'd think middle of the night would be quieter and quicker for a response but I also guess they have less operators working then.

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Joined: Dec 30 2015
Posts: 1424

Personally, I'm with Green Flag.

Sorry to hear your woes Marty :( Sounds like a good decision to get out of the way of traffic - a dozy wagon driver is all you need for a catastrophe in that situation.

Good luck with the engine, shame it's such a new built one - it was running beautifully a couple of weeks back.

Let us know what turned out to be the weak spot in the cooling system, coolant into the cabin isn't a great failure mode. IME cars generally boil out of the reservoir which is safer even if you still end up walking. BMW had a recall on some models' coolant caps to prevent exactly this type of incident - did Range Rover?

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Joined: Jan 16 2017
Posts: 477

I've not got good words to say about RAC either - it takes them forever to get to you is what I've found, they tell you what they think you want to hear rather than an actual realistic time. Not just me thats found this, My neighbour had a Golf that emptied his brake fluid over the road about 20 miles away from home, 2 hours later and they still hadn't turned up to do anything.

Someone else I know (who at the time was towing a trailer almost certainly beyond what his Suzuki Vitara could actually manage) got stuck halfway up the field next the house he was in the process of buying at 10pm - Seized the clutch together so it wouldn't release and you could smell burning clutch in the air. Was pitch black by this point, so we unloaded the van I'd driven up there whilst waiting for it to cool down, that didn't help much, so he called up Suzuki assist, who in turn sent the AA out to him. Considering we were in the middle of a field at the time I'd expected to be there hours as we weren't a hazard or anything, It took them 20 minutes to show up!

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Joined: Mar 22 2016
Posts: 1097

Now I’ve had the opposite, waited 3 hrs for AA, I’m a blue badge holder so meant to get priority,, ended up doing a bodge and got home, I changed to RAC, they were with me within 1/2 hour, relay afterwards the same,, l think it’s luck of the draw half the time.

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Joined: Nov 16 2016
Posts: 737

If you're alone and really don't want to wait... it's a bit naughty and maybe inconsiderate, but, if you tell them your 2 year old is stuck in the car with you (and it's a hot day and a/c can't be used / cold / needs a feed / etc)... works wonders! I did this when I absolutely had to be back at work when the ML broke. If I'd have been asked where the baby was I'd have said his grandad picked him up in his Fiat Panda or something.

My experiences of the AA have been far better than experiences of RAC... But could just have been lucky / unlucky on most occasions (and because of the 2 times I've used the AA one time I told them the toddler was in the car!). The biggy for me is that the AA would have shifted my caravan 10 miles without charging £500 but that might just have been because my RAC membership is through my bank account. .

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Joined: Jan 16 2016
Posts: 200

Good to hear you are OK Marty. Everthing else can be fixed. An example of Kiwi resilience.

As a matter of interest, have you fitted an Audi heater matrix to your car?

Regarding breakdown, I have been with both the AA and RAC over the years and similarly there has been a long wait when I have needed them.
I have also been with Green Flag via the Caravan Club.
I insure my car through Adrian Flux and they have breakdown insurance as an add-on:

https://www.adrianflux.co.uk/breakdown/?utm_source=adwords&utm_campaign=breakdown&utm_medium=ppc&gclid=CjwKCAjw36DpBRAYEiwAmVVDMH0Ao8kbIWg7yfz0zksNg9seKszFGUph5T9g7koMW2QB_K0Eh_-knBoCJtUQAvD_BwE

Been very good so far but must admit only used once in a blue moon. Broke down north of Montpellier in the South of France a few years ago and they called a local garage who towed the caravan to the campsite and took the car to a main dealer in Montpellier. They probably clocked up 200 miles.
Radiator blew in Sedberg again towing caravan up a steep hill and they had a big flatbed truck there within 20 mins. They don't have a fleet of their own. Just call pre arranged local garages.

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Joined: Dec 30 2015
Posts: 1053

I must admit I have had the thought over the last couple of days that maybe I'll just scrap it, buy something cheap and reliable, and be done with P38s... I've owned them for going on 14 years now, and never actually owned anything else.

But then I take another look at it, and it is a late model, vogue spec, with the Uber comfy Oxford leather, and the other accessories on it, and I know that if I did get rid of it, I'd miss it, and then would never find another one the same, coupled with the fact of how much I've spent on it over the years on maintenance, new engine and all that I figure I should just fix it up and keep it.

Then I wonder if I'll actually trust it again, even if I do fix it up... Like, do I get another new power steering pump, or just refit the old one? Do I strip the top end down and do the head gaskets anyway to be sure? I dunno.. I might need some positive vibes from the P38 community myself on some of that... It has properly been a shit week, topped off by the van coming to pick the gear up from the show last night getting there 3 ½ hours late - meaning my nice late afternoon finish and travel home turned into me not leaving the venue until 8pm, and getting him until gone 22:30!

With that rambling aside... I mustered the enthusiasm (it was lacking - my foot is pretty sore and a bit swollen from the burns - I'll put a gross picture up tomorrow! Thank goodness I was wearing closed steel toe shoes and not something more open and comfy for the drive) today, and started stripping out the interior in the driver's area to see how bad things are inside... So far...

  • Coolant in the sill, around all the wiring looms, so have pulled them out and soaked up a load of it
  • Footwell carpet and foam saturated with coolant, so cut this out to attempt to dry outside the vehicle
  • Coolant appear to have sprayed up in the dash, and signs of it on/in HEVAC, stereo/nav unit (this is fried... But not the end of the world as I didn't like this unit anyway!), Drivers trim panels, and the instrument cluster
  • BECM seemed to be ok the other night and I disconnected the battery once it was home, so I will probably pull that tomorrow to have a look inside it and check for coolant ingress.

The cause of this was the bottom/inlet feed to the heater matrix having gone bang in a big way. Pictures to follow tomorrow. In answer to the Audi core question, yes I've had an Audi core in there about the past 7 years, with no problems. BUT it was a cheap one, not one of the Nissens units I now use. Undecided if I will replace with a Nissens Audi unit, or back to LR version with O rings. Tempted to stick with Audi version as the pipework is nicer and better for my LPG setup.

Haven't looked under the bonnet again or taken the cover off the power steering pump to see what's failed on that. Maybe tomorrow. But some of the remains of the belt isn't pretty...

Hopefully will get around to copying the pics off the phone and onto my server so I can upload here tomorrow too.

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Joined: Feb 24 2017
Posts: 111

@MartyUK.... I totally know how you feel with the frustration of P38 ownership when all goes to shit.
I cant tell you the amount of times I wanted to push mine off a bridge whilst I was repairing them but I’m glad I didn’t.
Every time I look my P38s as I walk across a parking lot towards them I realize that there’s nothing in the entire lot that compares to mine. Added to that is the fact that I know them inside out. Newer cars are as common as muck but you rarely see a P38 on the road.
Keep the faith.
Ive had my H&H down to the bare bones and the Linley has been completely rebuilt from the tyres up. I can honestly attest to the fact that my blood sweat and tears are in my P38s. I certainly wouldn’t have the same enthusiasm for a newer vehicle.....
They are worth it.... Walk away from it and have a cup of tea.... all will be grand and you will be glad you kept it

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Joined: Dec 30 2015
Posts: 1424

Marty, I often have those feelings and it was you helping me out with The Duchess that has kept her in the fleet - even if she is in mothballs/slow rebuild condition right now. It knowing what is wrong and having a plan that works for me. Not knowing the problem and feeling like you're standing on the edge of a huge debt-cliff that scares the pants off me!

As for the coolant system I think it's really important to know if your coolant cap is faulty or whether the Audi core was weak. Maybe if you have a spare coolant bottle you could pressurise it with the old cap in place and see what PSI it gets to before release but either way I'd definitely get a brand new genuine cap from LR for SNOG because as you now know, overpressurised coolant is very bad news.

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Joined: Sep 14 2016
Posts: 360

Marty

I know exactly where you are coming from. Buy something cheap and reliable sounds so tempting but, from what I can see there aint no such animal. Maybe if you get lucky and if you don't do too many miles but every time I've got anywhere near such things, as in "Clive can you help me fix ...", not "my new bargain motor" its been something of a disaster area.

As always my attitude is get something well built originally that you can fix without stupid expense and stays fixed if you do it properly. Hello P38, and why I have a V8 Bristol as my retirement restoration project. Worst thing with the older vehicle is figuring out when to switch between on-condition (fix it when it breaks) and lifetime (miles/years) maintenance for things. Especially given the "how good are currently available parts" conundrum.

I'm somewhat horrified by the prices folk pay to keep theoretically less expensive cars running once they get respectable miles on them and by how darn difficult some are to work on. Umpteen years of Car Mechanics magazine is "enlightening". There are darn good reasons why personal contract lease cars are limited to 50,000 miles or so!

Rule 1 of running mechanically powered vehicles seems to be "Its gonna dump on you big time about every 20 years or so!". When your number comes up it comes up independently of what you are running.

Clive

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Joined: Dec 30 2015
Posts: 3395

I think you may have less to do than you seem to think. OK, so the heater core let go with the pressure so you may have an iffy cap, or it may have just been a weak pattern part (do Britpart do bits for Audis?) but it isn't the end of the world. If you rebuilt motor had top hat liners and studs rather than stretch bolts, unless it got so hot it started pinking and was starting to lose power, I doubt you've done any damage to the engine. Simplest thing will be to bypass the heater and run it, hopefully, you will be pleasnatly surprised.

I went through the same thing with mine when I first got it. Bought with a head gasket blowing into the Vee and a burst rear air spring. Fitted a new pair of rear Dunlops, pulled the head off and noticed a nick in it right where the fire ring was, skimmed the head and whacked it back together. Took it for an MoT, gave it a bit of a run and within 80 miles of doing the head gasket, it started blowing into the Vee again. Left it for two weeks in disgust before deciding to have another go at it. Just as I was about to take the same head off, did a compression check and found it was the other head gasket that had gone. Found an identical nick in the other head too.so had to do the whole lot again. Then I started using it and found that just about everythng that can go wrong on a P38 did and for the first two years of ownership I kept the Classic that I'd bought it to replace. I had a trip to Holland planned that was to be the first European run in the P38 but ended up using the Classic as I couldn't trust the P38. I did a run to France and, while sitting in a queue for a motorway toll, it got very hot, far too hot. That really did kill it so I arrived with it running on 6 and drinking 5 litres of water every 50 odd miles. I ended up borrowing a Discovery and putting the P38 and a Harley Davidson on the trailer to get it home again. This time it had got so hot that two of the threads in the block pulled out and had to be helicoiled. But, I knew if I got it sorted, I'd never need to buy another car again. That was in 2011 and, once the head gaskets had been done yet again, as everything else had been sorted, I just used it. Until, after another 60k+ miles, it could only manage 45 mph uphill with an E Type Jag on a trailer behind. It was at that point I decided I had to make a choice. Try to sell an ex-police P38 with almost 300k on the clock and a very tired engine, add some extra money to it and end up with someone else's pile of trouble and start all over again, or use the money to get my engine rebuilt and keep the Devil I knew. I chose to do the latter and now, with 378k on the clock, I'm taking it to the south of France again next week and will continue doing so while I'm still capable of doing it. But I do know that the car will do it.

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Joined: Dec 30 2015
Posts: 1053

Yeah, it is just a bit of a confidence knock - when you've tried to do it all properly and it still doesn't work! It had been a pretty average week before that, so between that happening and then the delays to get home yesterday, just kinda topped off the whole week really.

The block is Top Hatted - it was a V8 Dev short engine when I built it. I did also fit head studs at the time.
The cap did do it's job, but obviously not quick enough before the heater core got to breaking point - there was a trail of coolant and the signs that the overflow from the header tank had been working overtime - so from that, it was definitely venting as it should. The cap also was genuine LR - and was fitted along with the new engine 18 odd months ago.

I'm somewhat surprised that none of the underbonnet hoses let go, or the radiator tank didn't pop. I'm about to go out and have a look at the power steering pump and see the state of it, but from the quick look I did on the heater hoses the other day, everything cooling-system wise under the bonnet actually looks intact.

I wouldn't like to say how long the engine was running without the pump turning or after the heater core let go - It feels like it was an eternity, but it was a hill up the offramp and there was still enough power to get my up that, and I don't remember hearing any nasty noises from under the bonnet before I turned it off - though as soon as I was stopped the key was off!

I'll get a few more pictures under the bonnet as I'm going to go out now and investigate a bit more, and then fire the laptop up and upload some of them.

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Joined: Dec 30 2015
Posts: 3395

Martyuk wrote:

I wouldn't like to say how long the engine was running without the pump turning or after the heater core let go - It feels like it was an eternity, but it was a hill up the offramp and there was still enough power to get my up that, and I don't remember hearing any nasty noises from under the bonnet before I turned it off - though as soon as I was stopped the key was off!

If you had to turn it off to make it stop, rather than it stopping on it's own, I would say the engine is fine. It's when it starts pinking and cuts out on you, you know that you are looking at a big rebuild.

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Joined: Dec 30 2015
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OK, so had more of a look and took the cover off the top of the power steering pump to see what the damage is there...

Pics first, and then my other thoughts...

First Look

Sad Face

Coolant Trail

Finally Home

Coolant Everywhere

Pooled in the Sill

Soaked Carpet

HEVAC

Cluster

Footwell Panel

Heater Core

Stripped Out

The Culprit

Belt remains around crank

Belt Remains

Belt Remains/PS Pulley

Belt Remains/PS Pulley

So looking at it - it appears the pulley on the PS pump has come away from the centre piece which threads onto the pump shaft. I'm guessing this has then split/shredded the belt, where pieces of it have then gotten caught up in one of the idler pulleys and wrapped around the crank.

The mud shield on the crank had been pushed hard up against the front cover, but after removing the remains of the belt, I was able to lever this back into place. I've tried removing the centre of the crank pulley from the shaft, so I can get the pulley off, but no dice - it's solid on there, so looks like I'll have to change the whole pump. The pump itself feels like it turns pretty well, it's not seized and the bearing doesn't feel like it's failed - which is what I had first suspected.

Inside - well, as you can see, the bottom of the heater core has blown out. There weren't many other places it could have been from as the pipework from the engine bay is rubber up to the plastic of the heater core.

I've taken the cluster apart and it appears to be OK internally, but the HEVAC however has signs of coolant in the connector and a bit of corrosion, so that might be the cause of the glimmer of the backlight on the message centre, possibly a back-feed from the HEVAC connector - I'm going to reassemble the cluster later and try it outside of the vehicle tomorrow. Also will pull the BECM and check that, and attempt to mop up remaining coolant inside the footwell etc, so that can dry out. I have a spare Nissens Audi heater core here, so in theory I could get the dash/heater box out and the heater core replaced and that all refitted over the rest of the weekend - if my enthusiasm lasts that long - though I'm also considering a new set of blend motors, as my passenger side temp blend was throwing the occasional error last winter, so whilst it's apart and all that...

Also going to start looking at new radio/nav units and options for that. I believe Sloth is going to come up this week at come point and have a look at the engine side with me - will most likely pop up to the workshop and grab the old PS pump to swap that back on, and also I'll probably grab my other set of heads from the old engine - so if there is HG issues with this, then I can overhaul the old heads with new valve seals, and probably re-lap the valves in aswell whilst I'm at it.

Fingers crossed I can get it all done, back together, MOT'd, and some trust back in it before I have to go to Bournemouth at the end of the month - otherwise it'll be a train trip to there too!