Not really electrikery or even oily so I thought I'd post it in here even thought it isn't an introduction. But I thought you could all do with a laugh at my expense.
As I’ve mentioned my car has 5,000 miles or thereabouts to do in the next 3 weeks, but it hasn’t started too well. Checked all my documents on Tuesday evening to realise the MoT runs out on the 23rd. Managed to book it in for Wednesday afternoon but it failed. When Marty and I changed the front axle back around Christmas time, the one we fitted had split boots on both ends of the link rod that joins the two wheels together. I’d meant to change them but never got round to it, figured I’d leave it until they were worn and starting to slop. Not too much of a problem as I would be back from my first 2,000 mile round trip on the 22nd, so ordered the complete set so it would be at home waiting for me to bung it on as soon as I was home and could drop it in for retest.
Set off on Thursday morning towing a car transporter trailer loaded with a 1974, Series 3, V12 E Type Jag which needed to be delivered to my mates workshop in Antibes in the South of France and 120 kilos of cast iron fireplace that needed taking down too. When I’d called to book the hire trailer I’d said I needed the biggest they’d got and big means heavy. I was towing a good 3 tonnes. All was going well until somewhere near riddlemethis’s place at about 3am on Friday, the AC stopped working and it was getting a bit warm. Checked it with the Naonocom and it said it was working but I’d only got just over 9V arriving at the compressor clutch, not enough to pull it in. I could dab a wire from the battery onto it and the clutch would engage and stay in on the 9V but as soon as it released, it wouldn’t pull in again. Figured that at the next LPG and coffee stop, I’d upgrade it to the later system where the HEVAC pulls in a relay which would switch power directly from the battery. With a few lengths of wire, my crimp tool and a spare relay, that was done in about 10 minutes fitted and tried. Clutch clicked in and then immediately dropped out again. Nanocom showed that the HEVAC was getting offended. It had detected that the clutch wasn’t drawing as much current as it should so had logged a fault and stopped trying to engage it. Bugger, some things are just too clever for their own good. Looks like it was going to be a warm journey for the rest of the way so we carried on with the windows open..
Near Aix the car seemed to fill with orange dust. Couldn’t work out what it was to start with until I looked in the mirror. I’ve got the new material for the headlining but that is scheduled for next week when I’m back home. The turbulence of driving with the windows open had released the headlining at the back and the rotted remains of the foam was coming out and flying around inside the car. Stuck it back up when we next stopped but by then everything inside the car, including us, had turned orange.
Arrived at the workshop Friday morning and we unloaded the trailer. Loaded the return load, a 1967 Triumph Bonneville motorcycle, and set off to my mate’s house. As I was slowing for the last toll point (St Isidore), about 10 miles from his house, it went Beep, Alternator Fault comes up on the dash with a red picture of a battery. Pulled up and opened the bonnet. All looked fine, alternator looked like an alternator, hadn’t burst into flames or melted and the serpentine belt was attached and turning nicely. Figured I should be able to make it to his house with the battery not being charged. The last part of the run to his house is 3km up a mountain track which rises almost 500m. It’s very narrow and bumpy with two hairpin bends and I’ve got to get up it in a car that may run out of electric at any time so the engine will stop while towing a trailer. Daren’t let the revs drop so went up there at about twice the speed I would do normally with the trailer dragging in the undergrowth on either side. Part way up the engine note seemed to change but I ignored that as it was still running and the dash hadn’t lit up with any more warnings. Got to the top, parked and opened the bonnet. Put my meter on the battery and it was showing 11.8V with the engine running. Definitely an alternator fault.
Found a pair of gloves so I didn’t have to wait for it to cool down. It was pretty warm having done just short of 1,000 miles in an ambient temperature of 31 degrees (almost as warm as the occupants of the car with no AC in 31 degrees!) but it was soon off. I had the vain hope that it was something simple like a stuck brush that could be sorted with a quick poke. No such luck. It seems that 316,600 miles is the finite life of a Marelli P38 alternator. The brushes were pretty worn but not as worn as the slip rings. That’s the black plastic under the ring that the brush is bearing against, not just a bit of blackened brass……
Just down the road from my mates place, well about 450m in the vertical plane and probably no more than 1km in the horizontal, but a 4 km drive away, is a place called Cassauto 06. A car breakers although I’ve driven past it no end of times and assumed it was no longer in business as where you used to see a pile of dead Renaults, now you could see nothing more than the sign. He assured me they were still there and phoned them. Alternator for a V8 petrol P38 Range Rover, no problem mate, got loads of them, he was told. I found that slightly hard to believe but clutching one very dead, and still very warm, alternator, we went down there. I was convinced we would get there to find a pile of assorted alternators, none of which would fit a P38. Seems that everything is hidden out of sight these days and there were at least 3 P38s and a Discovery in there amongst other stuff that used to be common but isn’t these days. When was the last time you saw a Renault 16 or a Peugeot 304 cabriolet? There’s at least one of each in this place, pretty much rust free too! The guy goes off and comes back with a very familiar looking alternator. Put it next to mine to make sure it was the same then went out the back. Came back a few minutes later with a pristine looking, fully tested, guaranteed for 30 days, 100A alternator with a Land Rover label showing it to be an AMR3021 (standard fit on an earlier P38 but then superseded to a different number). Cost me 150 Euros but probably a lot cheaper than if I’d used my ADAC European breakdown membership who would have got one for me but it would have been from a main dealer at main dealer price and probably not until Monday at the earliest.
Fitted it and was quite surprised to find that 11.8V was still enough to start the engine without any of the usual gearbox fault, etc that usually pop up if a battery is a bit iffy. Meter on the battery showed it was charging nicely but the engine note still sounded odd. A quick look underneath showed why.
Bouncing over the bumpy track at a stupid speed had caused the outlet pipe on the centre silencer box break off. It looked well rotted anyway and I’m surprised the MoT tested hadn’t at least commented on it. Interestingly, it’s only a couple of years old. The centre box started to leak at the seam so I ordered a new one which arrived with a Britpart sticker on it, but it was cheap. The one I took off had Land Rover on it and I’m fairly sure it, along with the downpipes and back end, are the original ones. The silencer itself is fine, it’s the rear pipe that had let go. Sounded quite throaty and figured that as long as the front pipe into the silencer wasn’t in the same state, it would get me home. Concerned that the front pipe would be taking the weight of the whole silencer, I used a bit of steel garden plant wire to at least take a bit of the weight and hoped it would last.
It did last and got me home although I must admit that after about 700 miles I remembered a post from someone on the other forum who had a blowing exhaust burn through an EAS pipe. With the exhaust gases coming out in front of the rear axle I then started imagining the axle oil solidifying from the heat and the diff seizing, the brake fluid boiling in the pipe running over the axle (even though there isn’t one) leaving me with no brakes or the rear air spring catching fire and dropping me onto the bumpstops. But none of the above happened and we got home.
We even had air con. I noticed that the feed from the HEVAC goes to the connector in the RH kick panel. I’d checked the one in the LH side but don’t think I’ve ever been inside the other one. It looked OK but I snipped the wires into the plug and bypassed it anyway. AC started to work but it didn’t last, so on a fuel stop I checked and found 11.2V at the compressor so ran a wire from the compressor to inside the car. As there were enough volts to hold it I once engaged, all that was needed was enough volts to pull it in in the first place. Every time it started to get a bit warm in the car, Dina would poke the bit of wire into the fag lighter socket, the clutch would engage and we’d get cold air. As soon as it started to get warm, she’d just give it full battery volts and it would all go cold again. No problem.
Just got to get it all sorted out before the weekend when we set of on a 3,000 mile round trip……