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Project Lucas, More Small Fixes

Moving on from the last lot of repairs, I have also been tinkering with a few other small issues, in preparation for a potential WOF check.

It may be obvious, but the work on this car is kinda sporadic and not really following much of a plan. That’s because there currently isn’t really one. I’m feeling a bit lost and well over my head, as I don’t want to spend money fixing other issues, only to have to put the car into storage until I can fix the engine if it does go pop.

What I have been doing is just ticking some things off the list that don’t cost me anything but time. Some of these are also getting fixed with the aim of potentially taking it for a WOF check. Technically a clattering POS engine won’t fail a WOF, so it’s possible I might be able to get it on the road before doing the engine work.

The first work I had to do was kinda forced upon me. The outside temp overnight the other night dropped below zero, and having already checked when I got the car, I knew the anti-freeze mixture in the car was pretty rubbish. I pulled the car into the garage for the night to try and keep it above zero, and the next day worked on draining a few litres out of the system and topping it up with anti-freeze, just so there was some sort of a mixture in there. It’s not perfect, but it’s better than nothing (and no point flushing the system now).

Of course, it wouldn’t be one of my Rovers if it didn’t leave a green puddle at some point

I ran the car up to temp, bleeding the cooling system (it’s mostly self bleeding) and then set on the next task.

Another easy check is to make sure the throttle pot is set up correctly. Most probably aren’t, and will result in the ECU not fuelling correctly.

When checked with a multimeter, the throttle pot range should be between 0.32v +/- and 4.7V +/-. Mine wasn’t quite there (better than Effie though, which read zero at idle).

And this is where I discovered the car cannot reach Wide Open Throttle. It stops opening at about half throttle…

I marked the throttle pot and tweaked it slightly.

This brought the closed throttle reading into line

But I was still stuck at half throttle. If I disconnected the linkage to the throttle I could get the full opening (or near enough, it might need a little more tweaking but it’s not an exact science)

It turns out the auto trans kickdown cable was so badly adjusted it was stopping the throttle from opening fully. The adjustment was wound completely out (I’ve actually backed it off slightly in this photo for testing, it was right on the end of the thread initially)

I backed it off until I could get full throttle and then locked it off.

A test drive shows that the car has significantly more grunt when you give it a boot, no surprise there; nothing like opening the last half of the throttle to wake the engine up, but I had lost kickdown on the transmission. Clearly, I need to wind the adjustment back in a bit further.

The kickdown works by the linkages pulling on that cable when at a certain percentage of throttle, which overcomes the spring pressure in the transmission and pulls on a rod that causes the transmission to kick down a gear. If the cable isn’t being pulled enough because the throttle hits the stops before the cable overcomes the spring pressure, it won’t kick down. I can still manually shift the transmission, but I will tweak it so kickdown works again.

Next on my list of things to fix, was the washer system not working, and having a bodge in place. This is a common failure point, and the easy fix is to do what both a previous owner of this car and also Effie did and fit a replacement external pump to suck through a failed pump.

The pumps on these have no filter, so if they suck in gunk they are prone to jamming up and no longer working. They are mounted on the bottom of the bottle with grommets.

I removed the bottle and found the bottom of it covered in green algae. No guesses for what’s jammed the pumps then. The cap is also missing, so that won’t help.

I cleaned the bottle out with some household cleaner and a good blast from the garden hose.

One of the pumps is jammed solid and I cannot free it, but after some gentle persuasion of the percussive kind, the other pump began to spin freely. The good thing is that they are both the same pump, so can be swapped front to rear. I don’t need the rear washer to work at this point, so as long as I can get the front working, I’m happy.

The replacement pump has been fitted on the front guard, sucking through the failed pump. This pump did make working noises, but with the bottle dry and full of slime I didn’t actually try putting any water through it.

Thankfully no wiring had been cut or altered, they had made a fly lead that plugged into the standard wiring, so all I had to do was unplug it, cut the zip ties and remove the one screw holding the pump to the car.

I then refit the bottle to the car, plugged the pump in, put some water in the bottle and hit the button. Sure enough, a large jet of water fired from the hose. We have a good pump.

To replace the external pump and join the two sections of the hose, I fitted a handy one-way valve I happened to have spare.

This then allowed the pump to send water to the washer jet, but nothing came out. Darn.

The jet is just held in fairly loosely with a couple of clips and pulls free with a bit of wiggling. I found the hose under the jet was kinked completely over, which wouldn’t be helping, but the jet was also blocked.

I could’ve cleared this with compressed air, but being too lazy to fire up the compressor I instead used pressurised brake cleaner forced into the outlets of the jet (reverse flushing it). This worked a treat, blasting some black grot out the back of the jet. I did this in both directions until I was getting a nice stream of fluid out of the jet.

With the jet fitted directly to the outlet on the pump, I could test that the jet was working. The spray pattern wasn’t great; they never are, but there was a good volume of fluid coming out of it.

With the jet refitted to the panel, I finally had a front washer jet again. It puts enough fluid on the screen to clear it, so that’s a good pass. Probably puts enough fluid onto the car next to me to clear their screen too.

Yes, the wipers are mismatched and sit too low. Yet more things to fix.

I reluctantly took a look at the rust above the windscreen. There were a couple of small blisters in the paint which had me worried, after having dealt with the Corolla rust.

Thankfully it looks like it may have started from a stone chip, as after some careful poking, wire brushing and sanding, it was on the surface, doesn’t go too deep and looks worse than it is; a completely different sort of rust to the Corolla. It may go down under the bright trim, but I can’t see without removing it. I treated it with some rust converter, and once dry, gave it a coating of epoxy zinc. I’ll need to get some colour matched touchup paint at some point, but for now, this should keep it under control.

The sunroof panel is still ruined though, but I’m ignoring that and pretending it doesn’t exist. Those bubbles on the left will be a hole if I look too hard at them.

I did manage to take the car further than around the block, just for a quick shakedown. I took it two blocks away to a local park and grabbed some photos. Despite its flaws, it’s a hell of a car to look at and drive.

Now, if it would stop clattering, so people were looking at the car for the right reasons, instead of trying to work out if they should move back in case it explodes, that’d be nice.

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