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Project Tomcat, Full Service

It was obvious from the moment the car was delivered that I had purchased yet another car with a deferred maintenance problem. There were leaks everywhere, and the coolant was anything but.

Of course, this set me into the usual course of action. A full service.

The first on the list was the coolant. When I first backed the car off the truck, before starting it, I checked to see if there was anything in the expansion tank. There was, but it was a mixture of clean water and brown sediment. Yay.

Draining the cooling system is fairly simple, albeit a pain due to a lack of a drain tap, so you have to pull the lower radiator hose off and try not to make a huge mess.

Thankfully I got a cheap fish bin a while back, and that was perfect for catching a large amount of liquid from various places. There was no coolant in the system, just brown murky water.

I drained it all out, removed the expansion tank for a quick clean (it’s very stained, but holds pressure, so it will stay for now) and then flushed the radiator and engine through with fresh water until it ran clean.

With the expansion tank out it was the perfect time to remove the ugly AC pipe that was just hanging out in the engine bay. The AC system is a write-off since the previous owner left the inlet/outlet on the pump open to the elements for who knows how long, so the pump is probably stuffed. I’ll just make do with popping the tops on a hot day (or using a different car).

To flush the engine I removed the top hose. This hose should house a thermostat (it’s held in the top hose with a hose clamp, not in a housing). I suspected the thermostat was missing, and sure enough, nothing.

Filling and bleeding the T series system is also quite easy. Fill the expansion tank up whilst squeezing the top hose until coolant starts to flow from the top hose bleed screw (which was plugged solid with gunk, so I had to clear the bleed screw first. It should have a little hole in the side near the top so you don’t have to remove the screw completely), and then run the car up to temp with the cap off the tank. I used my big coolant funnel to raise the head even higher which makes bleeding a bit easier, but not necessary.

This is about how far the bleed screw needs to be opened if the internal channel in the screw is clear

The coolant bottle ain’t great, but at least I can see the coolant level now. I removed some coolant once I was sure the cooling system was bled, and now it sits just on the Max line.

Next up, since the engine was warm now, was to drop and replace the engine oil and filter. This was really easy. 19mm bolt on the back of the sump to drain the oil, and the filter is just right there off to the side.

The smell of Bullshite was starting to get pretty strong now. In the listing for the car when I bought it, it clearly states “Full Service” as having recently been done. Well, clearly not the coolant, or as it turns out, the engine oil. The oil was black and smelt a bit fuelly. Not fresh, that’s for sure.

I poured in the required 4.5L of HPR10 10W50 full synthetic, started the car up, the oil light went straight out and the engine sounded happy.

The gearbox was next. I know these PG1 gearboxes are VERY sensitive to being run with low fluid due to their plastic cage bearings, which will overheat and grenade themselves. There is some bearing noise at idle in this car, and I could see the gearbox was wet on the back, so hopes weren’t high that the oil level was correct.

As always, remember to crack and remove the fill plug first, and then the drain plug. The fill plug (green arrow) is a 17mm hex, whilst the drain plug (orange arrow) can be undone with a 3/8 ratchet with no socket.

Because I was curious, I drained the fluid into a clean measuring jug. The colour wasn’t good, and it smelt burnt.

Well, I’m glad I drained it. Less than 1.5L, which is over 1L down on the 2.5L it should have in it. No chunks thankfully, but those bearings must be a bit toasty.

I refilled the box with Honda MTF. I agonised (like usual) over this oil decision for ages, but the recommended oil is Landrover MTF94 (which supersedes engine oil in the box), which according to the interwebs is interchangeable with Honda MTF. Either way, it’s got to be better than what was in there. Interestingly though, Honda MTF is very thin, which was a surprise.

With the underside fluids done, I moved on to the sparky stuff.

The leads didn’t inspire confidence, as they were generic off the shelf Repco leads. Probably fine, probably do the job, but were wrong. Wrong is bad.

With the leads removed, I could remove the spark plugs. These did actually look quite new, and were the right model (NGK BKR6E), but they hadn’t regapped them from the standard 1.1mm gap to the required 0.85mm gap. Sigh.

I fit a new set of BKR6E gapped to 0.85mm and then fit the new Lucas LUC7443 leads.

I also removed and replaced the cap and rotor. They were in decent shape, but had some minor wear. It’s quite interesting that the T series doesn’t have a distributor as such, the rotor mounts right onto the end of the camshaft, and the cap screws to the head. The shield under the cap was looking a bit worse for wear, but are expensive to replace.

New cap and rotor fitted, and new leads connected. I was interested to note that despite the listing saying “new coils” the coil (tucked behind the battery) was original. Maybe they meant spark plugs?

Next, since the intake pipes were out of the way, I wanted to check the wastegate and dump valve were working correctly. I connected my vacuum pump to the dump valve vacuum hose, but it wouldn’t hold a vacuum. I could hear a whistling noise. Nuts.

Turns out, the vacuum hose had a big gash in it, which had been badly covered with insulation tape. That tape had proceeded to fail in the heat and wasn’t sealing anything.

The vacuum hose to the wastegate was actually a length of fuel hose and had gone rock hard in the engine bay heat. Unfortunately when trying to remove this pipe from the boost control valve, I broke the nipple off the valve. Ugh.

I did a quick fix, hopefully it holds. If it doesn’t I will look into a manual boost control to replace it, and set it to standard boost. To try to fix this one I ran a 5mm drill bit down it, and epoxyed a short section of brake tube into the hole. It was a snug fit (had to be tapped into place), and the epoxy is meant to be super strength.

I used a length of old hose to test the dump valve and wastegate in the meantime, and thankfully both worked as expected.

After a couple of days for the epoxy to cure, I replaced the rubbish vacuum hoses with new black silicone vacuum hose.

Since I was already there, I quickly removed the cambelt cover to check the timing and condition of the belt. I had been told the belt was replaced recently when the headgasket was done. Since the head is pouring oil from everywhere, I didn’t have much faith in the cambelt having been done/done properly either.

Thankfully, the belt looks very good, if it’s not new new, it’s not long been replaced. Even better, the timing marks all line up as they should. It appears the roll pins are in the correct locations too.

I buttoned the engine back up

The engine bay looks exactly the same, except for the missing AC pipe, and the green coolant in the tank. The main benefit was that the engine starts on the button every time, doesn’t overheat when idling, runs quietly and idles smoothly.

Annoyingly the brake light switch has failed (brake lights stuck on again), so since I’m waiting on a replacement to show up I haven’t been able to take the car for a drive since I did all this work. Hopefully it isn’t too far away, I’m dying to see if it boosts better now.

Since the car was stuck in the garage I did a couple of other things.

The boot latch was no good. As I mentioned in my previous post, I had to slam the boot lid hard to get it to catch. This was due to the catch having a missing plastic section inside it.

I managed to source a replacement catch, with the correct plastic piece intact.

This is the old catch

And this is the new catch, with the required black plastic bit

The plastic part alters how far the striker needs to go into the catch before it shuts the latch.

Interestingly the new catch was date stamped 97 (my original 94) and seems to have some running updates and is a higher quality.

The improvement is vast. Not only does the internal release work correctly now, but I don’t have to slam the boot lid. I can close it like a normal person, gently letting it close, and it latches first time every time. Great success.

Now to get some new gas struts so I don’t have to worry as much about the 2 tons of boot lid taking my head off when I use the boot.

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