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Project Tomcat, Moving Again

Finally, a new title, which means things have happened.

Last time we left off with the gearbox in place, full of oil and the axles in place. Thankfully the gearbox passed the white paper test with no leaks, which means I managed to seal it up correctly and all the new seals are holding oil.

Unfortunately, the lower radiator hose was still AWOL; I had planned on waiting for that to arrive, but in the meantime, after work, I decided to fit the freshly rust treated and painted heater pipe and some of the coolant hoses in preparation for the hose to arrive.

This did end up with me getting carried away and just sending it and installing the old coolant hose as it was in usable condition and wasn’t leaking beforehand, and whacking the whole thing back together.

New stainless lower pipe

I had to replace this hose to the heater pipe as I found some quite deep cuts/wear in the original hose. It is originally a moulded hose to clear the gearbox and air intake, but some careful trimming and clamping had the generic hose in a good enough position.

Starting to look like an engine again, and a huge milestone

It had been a long time since I had seen the car without the engine support bar in the engine bay.

All the intake and boost pipes were then reinstalled

The cooling system was filled, bled and then it was time.

Still up on the Quickjacks, with my Wife standing by to check the wheels were turning, I jumped in the car and started it up.

Into first, clutch out. Wheels turn. Second. Third. Fourth. and gingerly into fifth since wheel speed was getting up there. All forward gears were doing what they should, and the clutch was actuating correctly. Clutch in, on the brakes, popped into reverse, and bam, the wheels go backwards even.

I built a gearbox, and it even works

With the wheels back on, and then off again to torque up the hub nuts (oops, that was lucky), and the wheels back on again, the car was lowered to the ground for the first time in a couple of months.

Its maiden voyage was out onto the drive to turn the car around, warm the engine up and bleed the cooling system

After the thermostat (hey, it has one now!) opened and the fans cycled, the car went back into the garage for the night.

The next day, I got home from work and immediately checked the fluid levels and took the car out for a drive. I needed to make sure everything gearbox related was working as it should, before booking the car in for a WOF inspection.

First impression of the work done is that the shifter is really good. It’s direct, firm and has very little play. The clutch is nice and progressive with a good bite point, and despite being a slightly uprated clutch the feel is good and it’s not heavy. The sticky shudder I had when engaging the old clutch is gone (thankfully, I was thinking the cable was sticky, but clearly not).

The gearbox works really well. It’s silent at idle in neutral, where it used to rumble noticeably beforehand. The synchros are working well with no crunching. There is a slight whine in second gear, but considering what the gearbox has gone through (or what’s gone through the gearbox) I’m not surprised the gears didn’t survive completely unscathed. It’s a huge improvement.

I haven’t been able to give it a real good test since I don’t want to push the car too hard until the clutch has had some time to bed in, and I have checked the rest of the car over a bit more, but the couple of times I came on boost in a corner showed that the diff pulled the car around the corner. The feeling of being pulled wheels first around the corner was quite pronounced, and I feel like I could push even harder into a corner and have the car pull it to the exit.

The torque steer everyone comments on was almost non-existent. I say almost, just because if it was there I never noticed it. On boost it just tracks straight and true.

I’m really happy with the work I have done, the gearbox is sublime to use.

The turbo noises are addictive and hilarious too. So much whoosh.

A quick stop to check I wasn’t pouring fluids out gave me a chance to take some photos of the car that aren’t on my drive, in my garage or broken down.

Yes, the front corner splitters will make a comeback at some point (the steel inside them that mounts to the bumper is like a doily so I either need to fix these or find replacements), and yes the bonnet desperately needs paint.

The car also happened to tick over 113,000km just where I stopped

I have more or less doubled the KM I have covered since I got the car, and *touches wood* the car even made it home under its own power this time.

You may (but probably didn’t) also notice that the side repeater lamps on the front guard arent orange anymore. I didn’t like the fact that all the other indicators on the car are clear but these weren’t, so I bought a kit to replace them last time I ordered parts from Rimmers.

The old lights were quite faded. They slide back or forward and then wiggle out

The bulb on this side was covered in filth. It turns out there should be an O-ring on the bulb holder to seal it. I tried but couldn’t find one that fitted, so will just deal with having to clean the light later.

The new lights come with orange bulbs

Which then twist-lock into the new light, and after a quick clean of the grot that lives behind the light, the new light clips in.

So flashy

Of course, I couldn’t leave you without a video of the whooshy noises. Enjoy.

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