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The only place for a coil spring is up Zebedee's arse.
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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……

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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.

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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……

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Weren't you the inspiration for a certain American TV hero? Actually, there's more than a passing resemblance, so tell the truth- <br>
Are you really Macgyver??? <br>
enter image description here

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Dunno about MacGyver but Dina did comment that if she had been with anyone else she would have been panicking about getting back on time to go to work on Monday but wasn't in the slightest bit concerned.

But, the name says it all, I'm surprised they dare put their name on it. Two years old and this is the state of it.

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I've replaced it with a Euro Car Parts special, a Klarius, which at £36 using one of their discount codes seemed like a good deal. Especially as my local branch had one in stock. Seems to be a lot better made than the Britpart and lined up with the other pipes perfectly.

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Ouch

My centre silencer was like swiss cheese, but it was I'm sure the original. I lopped it out and replaced it with a bit of 'polylock' flexible pipe, as both flange ends are looking pretty horrendous, and I didn't have the cash to replace the whole exhaust at the time. It sounds very nice now as a result :) Next year I will need a full exhaust though, but I'll be keeping a straight pipe where the centre silencer should be.

That alternator... nice.

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I'm impressed with the quality of the Klarius from Euro Car Parts. They also list the rear sections as two parts, left and right, at very reasonable prices too, under £150 for both so will be worth waiting for one of their 40% off offers.

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You can appease the HEVAC with a ballast resistor - that's what the upgrade kit came with, to fool it into thinking the load of the clutch was still present. I'm not sure what rating it was, something hefty to just dump power into.

You could as a bodge actually just wire the feed from the HEVAC into both the clutch and your relay coil, if you can't find a suitable resistor. The load will keep it happy, and the switched feed through the relay will actually do the work of initially pulling the clutch in. Bit nasty... but hey.

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Gilbertd wrote:

I'm impressed with the quality of the Klarius from Euro Car Parts. They also list the rear sections as two parts, left and right, at very reasonable prices too, under £150 for both so will be worth waiting for one of their 40% off offers.

Thanks for the heads up. I'm after a set if I ever get mine back together. €104 for the pair on their FR site with code.

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That's a great tale of endurance and lateral thinking - nice one Richard :)
I think that alternator deserves a proper funeral, it certianly gave its all.
(I'm taking notes, because I'm sure it'll all happen to me at some point).

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Sloth wrote:

You could as a bodge actually just wire the feed from the HEVAC into both the clutch and your relay coil, if you can't find a suitable resistor. The load will keep it happy, and the switched feed through the relay will actually do the work of initially pulling the clutch in. Bit nasty... but hey.

I thought of that (there's a lot of thinking that can be done on a 14 hour drive) but there's a problem. If I parallel the relay coil with the HEVAC feed to the clutch, it will pull in on the reduced voltage. To pull in the clutch I would need a feed direct from the battery to one side of the relay contact and the other side would need to be connected to the feed to the clutch. Great, but the feed from the relay contact to the clutch would also feed the relay coil so once pulled in, the relay would never release. It would need the feed to the clutch disconnecting and a diode fitting in line to prevent the relay coil from being back fed. Now I may carry a few assorted bits and pieces in the boot but a 5A diode isn't one of them.....

But I sorted it today after fitting the new steering link arm and dropping it in for the MoT retest (tester was a bit gobsmacked to find it had done 1,974 miles since he had tested it on Wednesday). With the connector in the RH footwell bypassed, I was now getting around 11.6V at the clutch. The only other thing between the connector and the clutch is the trinary switch. I was getting 12.5V out of the HEVAC, 12.5V at the connector but dropping 0.9V through the switch. Figured I might try removing the switch from the SE (as the AC system has no gas in it anyway and I seem to remember Marty posting that the trinary switch has a Shrader valve behind it so it can be changed without losing all the refrigerant) but it's a bit of a bastard to get to. While staring under the bonnet of the SE I noticed the air gap on the AC compressor clutch. Out with the feeler gauges and the gap was 29 thou. Checked mine and it was over 40 thou. A quick Google found that if the air gap is too big the clutch will pull in when cold but not once it gets hot. This seemed to tie in with what mine had done, worked fine in the UK but not once I got further south and it got hotter. Further Googling found this http://www.cpsproducts.com/site/elements/download/pdfs/%2373-007%20ac10868a.pdf which says that the air gap on a Sanden TRS105 should be 16-31 thou and they recommend getting it as close as possible to the lower figure to allow for wear. Holding the clutch with a fabric oil filter strap wrench, the centre nut came off easily enough. The clutch plate is on a splined shaft and there's a shim behind it. Only the one but with no shim at all I now have an air gap of 17 thou. Despite it being 32 degrees outside today, the AC clutch now comes in every time and it is working perfectly. So well that when I gave Dina's sister a lift this evening, she wanted to know how to turn it off as she was freezing!

And, while I had the front in the air and the front wheels off to change the link arm, I wire brushed, sanded, primed and painted the front wheels. I'll do the rears tomorrow as it's looking a bit odd at the moment but with it as hot as it has been today, the paint dries in a matter of minutes.

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Doh, of course it'll never drop out :) Still, sounds sorted anyway!

I must admit, despite my thread about my concerns with my A/C, it seems perfectly capable in the hotter weather on auto. Had a 2 hour drive home yesterday (should be 45 minutes, thank you bloody caravan) through all sorts of odd places, and never once thought about it being too warm - despite it being 30 odd out. Still won't quite cryogenically freeze you like an E39, but then my E39 has a light grey interior and is a smaller interior than my all black greenhouse P38.

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Things are getting better. As proof, this is being posted from Dina's parent's home in Saulkrasti, a small seaside town about 30km north of Riga in Latvia. I intended parking next to the sign that showed us entering Latvia dn getting a photo of Big White, as Dina calls it, parked next to it but due to poxy traffic and roadworks in Poland and bits of Lithuania, it was dark by the time we crossed the border last night. Having spent last week alternating between AC, other mechanical bits and cosmetics (new Martrim headlining fitted, scabby bits of bodywork sanded down and painted, wheels painted, etc) I felt reasonably confident we'd be OK but you never know. It looks good too. Or at least it does from about 10 feet away but you can see why I don't do bodywork if you get closer. The worst part is one rear wheel. I'd just painted it and a thunderstorm arrived proving that torrential rain and wet paint don't mix, but as my late step-father (the man who got me into playing with cars almost 50 years ago) would have said, a blind man would be pleased to see it.

Only thing worth reporting is that I think I've worn out a section of track on the fuel gauge resistive thing. With the single point LPG system, it uses so little fuel the gauge has read quarter full for over a year (in fact, the petrol in there is over a year old too!). Every so often, it would drop to nothing, the yellow light would come on and the Message Centre would say, FUEL GAUGE FAULT. Then it would rise back up to normal and the message would go away. As fuel is pretty cheap out here I'll probably bung a bit in the tank so the gauge is sitting in a different place on the track.

I did think we had a problem at one point. Driving through Poland with Dina behind the wheel and me dozing in the passenger seat, the sound every P38 owner dreads woke me. You know the one, the one that goes BEEP BEEP BEEP, BEEP BEEP BEEP. In a panic, asked Dina what the message centre said and she couldn't see anything. In Poland it is mandatory to use dipped headlights all the time, even in bright sunshine, so with the lights on the message centre is dimmed. in 28 degree heat and bright sunshine, you couldn't see anything at all. We pulled into the next service area to investigate. Turned out she'd accidentally poked the speed limit button on the end of the light stalk and the beeping was telling her she was exceeding the set limit. As I don't think I have ever used it, the speed limit was set at 20 mph and it was merely telling her that she was driving too fast......

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I think we need to arrange an epic road trip to Latvia for all the loons on the forum. If we can take in some offroading on the way, all the better. Maybe we could bend the route past my parents place in central France which is just north of the Massif Central where I'm told there is good offroading to be had. Or something.

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You'll need to define who these loons are that we're going to send off to Latvia, off-road, via central France Miles. <br>
That way we can arrange a rota of non-loons to man the forum to arrange express freighting the spare parts required to keep them moving! <br>
Unless, of course, your intention is to leave them half-way up an Alp for the foreseeable future.... <br>
I'm still cleaning the mud off my engine bay from the 3 miles or so between Marty's workshop and civilisation. That's more than enough off-roading for me for one summer :-) <br>
Loon volunteers please step forward...

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I know what you mean, my engine bay, and most of the underside, still has a good layer of Marty mud too. I'm sure if there was three or four of us we could carry enough bits to deal with most problems. I already carry a spare starter motor (working on the principle that if the starter dies everything else can be perfect but as you can't bump start an auto, you're pretty much stuffed), so with an alternator, belt and tensioner pulley, failing a major catastrophe, there's not much else that will stop a P38 from being driven. Those with little faith could carry an air spring or two.

We could even pick up riddlemethis from Dijon on the way back from central France and Ferryman from Holland on the way through to make it a really international trip..

If anyone thinks this is a little foolhardy, it's nothing. In Poland I overtook an old Mercedes 190E with a load of stickers on it. On the doors it had a big number 4 and a sticker saying it was taking part in the Hamburg to Shanghai rally. Now that really is a road trip.....

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I think we'll need a classic car restorer along for the trip at least :)

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Any restorer worth his MIG welder know's when something just isn't worth restoring and becomes a donor car :-)

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Who would be first to sacrifice their own Rangey for the good of the pack?

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Probably the cleanest one with the shiny new Air Dryer...

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Gilbertd wrote:

We could even pick up riddlemethis from Dijon on the way back from central France and Ferryman from Holland on the way through to make it a really international trip..

Gentlemen, I'm honoured and count me in.

But first I want to clarify a language related item, you all know this is not my native language. I have seen the word 'loon' as related to participants for this trip. My dictionary says: loon- 1. (Scottish) fool, idiot. 2. rascal, good-for-nothing. Which one is it? 1: I'm not Scottish, up to you if that's a plus. 2: I'm too old being a rascal and good-for-nothing? I try to keep a piece of British Industrial heritage on the road so that is something. For the rest I love to participate and help anyway within my power to make any trip a success.

First we're heading to Spain for 2 weeks, by plane. We wanted to go by RR but there is this overheating problem I have to sort out first (since driving on LPG). I might need a rad, pump or fanclutch (see my other post about this) or all three. So sep 15 we will be back and sort it out. Keep me informed about heading east!

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Orangebean wrote:

Probably the cleanest one with the shiny new Air Dryer...

HAha :)
I'll just swap my shiny collets to a new chassis and motor on :P

Ferryman, I'm counting loon as lunatic. I don't think such a trip would be a rational choice - but potentially a very entertaining one!