The only place for a coil spring is up Zebedee's arse
33 posts

Thanks Clive.

I was curious about reusing the head gasket, but my gut was to buy new. You're right, it's not worth the risk. I have to wait anyway now, as I won't have time to continue until later in the week.

As for the threads. Well if it was just the rear bottom drivers side thread, I'd blame myself and say I managed to cross thread it. However it's the passenger side rear bottom thread and another too. On the passenger side, access is good and I was sure to check the bolts were going in straight and by hand.
When I installed new head gaskets last year, I had zero issues with reinstalling the exhaust manifolds.

They were exchange heads from V8 developments. So I don't know the history. The threads are clean, so doesn't seem to be a dirt issue, more likely other damage to the thread.

It's very frustrating, as today was a waste of time in the end.
I don't want to cause any more damage by trying to tap them, but also don't like the idea of installing helicoils into a set of freshly reconditioned heads either for the same reason.

Gilbertd wrote:

Are they M10? Early heads were Imperial (5/16 UNC I think) while later ones were M8.

Whoops meant M8! Not M10

Had a bit of a frustrating day today.

Yesterday I fitted the new camshaft, reinstalled the front cover and sump etc. This morning I installed the recon heads and got everything torqued up nicely. Then the problems started. A few of the exhaust manifold bolts wouldn't go in, they'd only go so far before feeling as if they were about to cross thread. I tried for ages, but there was no way a few of them would go in nicely. Of the few that didn't feel right, 2 were the bottom rear threads. We all know how difficult the drivers side back one is to get at, which only made it worse. So the only real option was to remove the drivers side head and have a look where I can see what I'm doing. The thread just isn't quite right, the bolt will only go in so far before feeling too tight and about to cross thread.
Now I'll have to try to clean the thread up a bit with a tap and die set, but can't find an M10, so will have to pick a set up tomorrow. Hopefully that will sort it.

A bit disappointing. I never thought to check the threads before installing the heads, as they were reconditioned, I thought they'd be okay. At least using head studs means it was easier to get the heads on and off.

Should the head gaskets be swapped too now, as they've been torqued down already or can I reuse them?

Thanks Clive and Brian, that's just what I had in mind. Turns out I don't need any though. I bought an impact wrench and decided to test it out straight away on the crankshaft bolt. It worked straight away, didn't even need to hold the pulley... Maybe I was overthinking how difficult I expected removing that bolt to be!
Hopefully your tools will help someone else 😀
I didn't want to continue to drop the sump and then end up putting it back on loose to prevent any mess until the new parts arrive, so left it at that for now.
I've ordered a new camshaft and tappets, plus all the other bits and pieces I need and hopefully can continue at the weekend.

So after a bit of delay, busy with other things, I've made some progress on this.

ARP studs and all the gaskets etc were ordered and then I've just been waiting for a set of recon heads to arrive from V8 developments, which arrived this week! Today I've stripped the engine down and the heads off. The head bolts were actually all very similar in feeling when cracking them loose and the head gaskets looked in very good condition, so maybe I did a better job than I originally thought... And maybe the head bolts weren't too bad either.

However upon removing a couple of tappets, they are pretty worn, some are mostly flat, but others are well dished. Especially the ones around the main 2 problem cylinders. The camshaft is showing signs of wear too.

So time for a new camshaft and tappets. I'm guessing removing the radiator and fans is enough to take the camshaft out?
Anyone recommend a camshaft and tappets other than the genuine ones?
I think I might replace the radiator too, as it's starting to crumble a bit around the end where the top hose pushes on.
At which point the thermostat may as well be replaced too! Already replaced the water pump last year.

The cylinders themselves looked okay to me, I can't see or feel any ridges around the liners. None looked steam cleaned this time (last time the front 2 cylinders had been cleaned by the leaking head gasket). Hopefully these are okay and the rings are fine.

So camshaft, tappets, timing chain, radiator, thermostat, drop sump and replace the gasket, new front cover gasket, plus all the other gaskets from the heads up as originally planned. Anything else I should look at replacing?

It's all a bit of a daunting task really. How do I get the bolt of the crankshaft pulley off - is there some sort of tool to stop the pulley and engine just turning?

Just looking to order a few things to get started on this when I have a free weekend.
The ARP stud kit appears to be part no. 157-4301, however it seems the only place in the UK with stock in Rimmer Bros and they don't mention a part number... https://rimmerbros.com/Item--i-RB7728--SelectedCurrency-1?gclid=EAIaIQobChMIo675kZnV9gIVR7DtCh3D9gWcEAQYFCABEgJf2PD_BwE - This seems to be the same kit though, anyone ordered this kit before from them?

As for the heads, I have decided the best option is to go for a set of reconditioned ones on an exchange basis, that way it minimises time needed to get this done and I get a set of cleaned heads, skimmed and tested and no need to worry about valve seals etc. Has anyone used ACR Deeside before? Not the cheapest, but seem to have good reviews and are relatively local to me. Any other recommendations for a decent set of reconditioned heads?

Now a dumb question:
Is there anything else I should be aware of using studs instead of stretch bolts? I guess clearance to get the heads on is still ok, without removing the engine?

True! I'm confusing myself with it now, by overthinking...

Wet compression test is next to try, it got dark before I got chance earlier!

I'm hoping it is the valves, if so I'm thinking of purchasing refurbished heads and a set of ARP head studs, that way I can ensure a better install, rather than using stretch bolts again.

I would of course look at the crankshaft etc too this time and check the engine condition a bit more thoroughly.

Yeah top hat liners would be nice but then it takes me back away from something I can do myself on the driveway.

Will see what the results of a wet compression test reveal.

I eventually found the time to look further into this today. First I checked for spark on cylinder 3 which was the one I'd been having issues with and all was good. So then I took it out for a short drive with the Nanocom connected and for the first couple of miles it didn't report any misfires. Then once it was up to temperature, they started showing on cylinder 3 at idle.

Back at home, I pulled the fuses for the fuel pump and ignition coils, jammed the throttle open and started testing the compression, these are the results:
Cyl. 8 - 150psi
Cyl. 6 - 135psi
Cyl. 4 - 145psi
Cyl. 2 - 150psi

Cyl. 7 - 150psi
Cyl. 5 - 125psi
Cyl. 3 - 50psi
Cyl. 1 - 150psi

So as expected, cylinder 3 is way out, with cylinder 5 down too.
Cylinder 4 and 6 aren't perfect, but just about within 10%
The compression tester may not be the most accurate, but at least it's highlighted the problem cylinders.

I still have the issue with the lower manifold bolt close to cylinder 3 and 5 in mind, but now also suspecting the stretch bolts may not be up to standard either... Would a poor fit of the lower intake manifold be possible to cause such low compression on it's own?

I've tested with one of those exhaust gas fluid tests, it did change colour after a while and some revs, but not as quick or as much of a colour change as it did last year.

I need to do a compression test next.

I'm currently going through all the options in my mind.
A rebuild is probably overkill, but it would be nice to know everything has been reconditioned and seals etc replaced.
The quickest solution is probably heads out and re-skim/refurb. Also drop the sump, check the camshaft etc whilst they are at the shop for a refurb. That's very tempting at the moment and just live with the minor oil leak.

One of the first jobs I had to do on the P38 was rear bags.
I had no problem with the bottom, but the top of the bags, with clips removed were stuck solid. I had to give up for the day and buy a bigger pry bar! With a good soak of WD40 and a decent size pry bar, I managed to release them. Once out, fitting the new ones is very quick.

Thanks Richard.

Yeah the thought process is going towards if I'm going to do this I may as well get it done properly, top hats too.
I plan to keep the P38, so it seems to make sense.

Potentially if I could find the time, I'd take the heads out myself and take them for machining and a refurb, plus drop the sump and swap camshaft etc, but it's the engine out that I don't have the space or equipment for.

I had a look on V8 developments site a couple of weeks ago before it closed and the prices seem fair, although I agree it's not cheap.

ACR (Automotive component manufacturing) is closer to me, they appear to have some good reviews, but seemed more focused on performance rebuilds, seems like they'll be more expensive.
I'll have to call around a few places and get some price estimates.

Last year I developed a coolant pressurising issue, which turned out to be the head gaskets. I replaced these and things have been mostly fine. Just a little rough running on LPG at idle. Petrol was fine.

Now I've started to have rough idle on both LPG or petrol. I replaced the ignition leads, as I had no idea how old they were and it didn't help. Today I've connected up the Nanocom and have a lot of misfires just on one cylinder and it appears to only be at idle.
Spark plugs were replaced with the head gaskets.

Now I'm thinking back and I did have issues with the inlet manifold not fitting as well as I wanted when rebuilding and I'm thinking this may be the cause of the misfire.
On top of this, in the past couple of weeks I'm starting to get pressure in the coolant system again :( Although, no coolant loss yet...

Although I was convinced after a lot of checking that the heads didn't need skimming, it looks like they might. However I'm concerned about getting the heads skimmed and the inlet manifold fitting even worse.

Since I've had it, there is a very minor oil leak at the rear of the engine, which I believe is the main seal. I'm seriously considering taking the P38 in for someone else to rebuild it, including removing the engine to replace the main seal and possibly replacing the camshaft etc too whilst it's in. The mileage is unknown as it was a replacement engine a number of years before I bought it.

I'd love to be able to do this myself, but I don't have the space or time at the moment.

Is there anyone in the north west that you'd recommend for an engine rebuild?
If I'm going to do this, I'd like to get it done properly.

Shell stopping selling it definitely has had an impact in some areas for availability, however the Shell closest to me was the same distance away as the closest Asda with LPG and Asda was always cheaper of course.

Luckily the supply issues seems to be resolved now, as I have no more issues with Asda running out. Also the Asda has far better pumps than the BP and independent LPG stations around here. I'm now back to getting 75l in from empty, compared with 45-65l from empty at the other stations! BP being the worst for this, yet most expensive!

I was lucky that my P38 came with a working LPG install, however other than the issues of messy installs and rushed jobs Richard has already discussed, I find it a good current alternative to other fuels and as I plan to keep the P38 long term, even though I'm not doing major miles, I'd still have very likely ended up getting an LPG install.
I've thought about electric briefly and it just wouldn't work for me yet and that's not even towing related. Personally even with the reduced number of stations, LPG is still more available to me than electric charging points.

I also think about if I was given the option of LPG or electric as a company car, I'd go for LPG, as I need to be able to top up quickly and get on my way. I can get a charger fitted at home, which would be great, but almost all destinations for work don't have any charging facilities, most hotels I've stayed at don't either.

In a way I think of them as both needing a little more planning, finding a place to be able to fill up with LPG or charge an electric car on your journey.
However at least with LPG, in an emergency I can just fill up with petrol to get me to the next station and even the slowest of LPG pumps is still going to give me more range and faster than most charging points.

For some people with short commutes or the option of charging at the office then I can see the benefits to electric. The infrastructure may be improving at motorway services, however personally I feel that I would need more charging points in car parks at destinations rather than stops along the way for it to be a viable option.

Totally agree on the tool Richard recommended, I already had one from before I bought the P38 and the other car had some awkward to get to clamps. Makes it such much less hassle, than fiddling with pliers etc.

Hmm, I'd be checking for the metal spacer, you don't want that rolling out and into somewhere you don't want. If it was behind the alternator, has it managed to slip down and onto the valley gasket, under the intake manifold?

Yeah, double check it is a HG problem first, I got myself a cheap test fluid kit on eBay to make sure before I tackled them.

Although based on your description it does sound like a pretty serious overheat. It sounds odd that so much disappears just when topping up. It must be going somewhere...

Are the hoses expanding? The first sign something was wrong with my head gaskets was the top main hose expanding and a constant but slow need to top up coolant, as it would pressurise and push some out of the tank overflow pipe. Suddenly it became much worse, that's when I bought the test kit to be sure it was exhaust gases getting into the coolant and causing the over pressuring.
I could see coolant (dry stains as well as sometimes still wet) under the header tank where it was being pushed out of the overflow, see if that's where all your coolant is going.

As for removing the engine to send it off, as romanrob says it's not too bad a job to do the head gaskets yourself and if you're willing to remove the engine anyway, it seems like something you could do. I did my first head gasket job a few weeks ago, it did take me almost a week, but I was just doing it on and off, a bit as and when I could.

Marty's install looks very neat! And I agree, the dash install looks great, the screen looks perfect size :)

So my camera finally arrived and I started playing around with it, it is a metal cased one, with a fixed angle, no bracket that can be adjusted like the other typical style.

After a lot of holding it in various positions and deciding how to mount it, I decided to go for the tailgate handle, but mounted off centre, to the side, so that there is still an area to grab without hitting the camera and getting finger prints on it all the time. When testing it, it's hardly noticeable that it's off centre on the image view.
Originally I wanted it fully hidden, however decided I could mount it far easier and neater if it was visible. Especially on a black car, it blends in fairly well and I feel like I've seen factory cameras more visible on some cars.

With a little work, a touch of sanding with a dremel and a good blob of araldite I fitted it how I wanted. Then gave the camera a coat of satin black (it was scratched on arrival, thanks to the poor packaging) and then a coat of matt black for the araldite, to blend that in with the plastic trim. Wiring runs around the upper tailgate (where the brake light cable runs), through the rubber to the headlining, then powered from the secondary towing plug wiring, behind the little panel on the side where the sub would be if I had one, video continues down the side of the car under the trim to the dash.

It covers the towbar just how I wanted and gives a downwards view, so I can better gauge how close I am to whatever is behind me. I have been wiring it up to a switch in the ashtray area, so I have a toggle between the old and new camera, between the 2 views, I am happy it covers my needs of either general view or if required a better view to judge distance and towbar alignment.

Photos of the camera:
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These remind me I need to take the plate off and polish out all the scratches around it...

I'll take a photo of the view it covers shortly, once I've finished tidying up the wiring to the switch and it's connected properly. It basically looks down, with slight bit of bumper visible, then the towbar and area behind it.

Oh and I wanted to clean the plastic lens pieces for the plate lights, but I couldn't remove them, as they felt brittle and like they would split if I tried to remove them. I guess I'll have to find replacement ones and just crack the existing ones off.

Ah interesting... I'll have to try that. It's weird that it didn't do that previously when I first swapped the relay.

I rebuilt the valve block and replaced the perished bags last year, so no leaks, I think maybe a sensor is a bit dodgy though, as at random it would go down over night/a couple of days of no use, whilst most of the time it would sit perfectly, sometimes it wouldn't move for a week and still be at the same height. And this is parking in the same place exactly, on a level driveway. Since swapping the relay, it never goes down, so I can only think it is a sensor to blame.
To be honest I kind of forgot about it lately as with swapped relay it's no problem.

I should swap back and see how it goes.

For some reason since a few weeks ago my EAS has decided to default to motorway height instead of standard.
So when I turn the ignition on and start the engine it moves down from standard to motorway.

It never used to do it, the only thing that is different is that I was using it locked to motorway height a few times shortly before this started.

I've had a standard relay in place of the usual EAS one for a long time now and quite like it, so I left it. I prefer that the car isn't adjusting unnecessarily.

The height lock button is not pressed in or active when this happens.

As far as I'm aware this isn't normal or an option? It should always default to standard height, I think?

I managed to print one in ABS yesterday and it fits straight away and is strong enough :)
I'll add some photos later.

Weirdly my car only has one fastener in the floor per mat, whilst the mats are designed for 2...
Not sure why that is, one holds them in place though just fine.

Great news! :)

Yeah, I deliberately didn't pause for long when I started mine up, so it could crank a little to get the oil flowing before the fuel was primed. It took a few moments to start, but nothing unexpected.

A little smoke shouldn't be bad either, as you say new parts etc. I had a little just from a few little drips of oil onto the manifolds etc from when I was lubricating the new head bolts and giving the rocker arms a little soak etc.