Driving a 1954 Austin-Healey 100/4 from Peking to Paris in the June 2019 ERA Rally.

Thursday, 12 April 2018

0047 The engine starts !!

Tuesday 10th April
Its been a long time coming, but we finally get there !
Steve working on the engine

Work on the many small items on the car has been so slow that I haven't had a lot to take photos of or to blog about, and was originally going to include the engine start up in that last post.  But then I realised that this is such a momentous occasion in both Gidget's rebuild and also our overall preparation for the Peking to Paris that it really should have its own space - So here it is !  And true to form, if you think the start was just a matter of turning the key, then think again - As usual with Gidget, it involved drama after drama !

Franz & Hildergarde's Troopie
Their world route
I had travelling friends from Germany arrive over the weekend - I
had met them in Canada 2 years ago, and they are currently driving their big German Troopie camper round Australia.   It makes my almost standard size Troopie look small and light (theirs is much heavier even than my Troopie's  somewhat lardy 3.4 MT !) - But they aren't able to buy a V8 engine in Germany !

4 bolt holes of alternator mount
As soon as they left, I prepared everything for Steve and Andrew to come over, hopefully to finish off the wiring and start the engine.  I went to install the new alternator bracket which has been amended to support the heavier new 70 amp alternator, and which is held in place by 3 allen bolts and one stud.  Two of these bolt holes are open into the water jacket, and therefore have to be fully sealed in place.  Presumably on the original engine these were all studs, so Steve had left the stud in place when he dismantled the engine since he reckoned it was better to leave it alone if it was working previously.  However, when I tightened the nut on this stud, everything turned !!  OH NO - The stud had stripped !  In fact, on closer inspection, it turned out that the stud had no threads at all and had simply been araldited in place, and as a result was totally useless !  It needed to have a re-coil fitted.   Gidget strikes again !

Steve fitting re-coil while I vaccuum

Once Steve came over in the morning, I bought a 3/8" UNF re-coil kit, and we set to work.  First we had to make sure that no metal filings from the drilling went down into the water jacket. so we amended our home vaccum cleaner by fitting a small pipe in the suction, and, after removing the blanking plate from the water gallery, inserted the pipe through the water gallery and right under the hole we were about to drill, and turned the vaccuum on full speed to suck out all the filings.  When we inserted the re-coil, we decided not to break off the installation pin in case it fell into the engine, but fitted a slightly shorter bolt to suit.

Andrew fitting accelerator pedal
Meanwhile Andrew was working on the accelerator pedal - This could not be done previously because the carbs weren't hooked up, and we needed to be sure that the movement of the pedal ensured the throttle opened fully.  This required quite a lot of cutting and welding so it was good that Andrew now has everything mobile in his van.

Boot light working
Next I ran up to the petrol station to get some fuel for the car (whoops, first thing I forgot !!), while Steve worked on the last of the wiring.  He wired up the boot and cabin lights that I had fitted (we will install the
engine bay light later), as well as the voltmeter, and we then prepared to fire up the engine.  First of all we flipped the switch for Fuel Pump #1, and it started clicking as it built up pressure - But it didn't slow down and the smell of petrol was strong and we quickly shut down the emergency cut off when we noticed fuel spilling out of one of the lines in the boot - In all the repeated fitting and unfitting of everything, one of the unions had been left loose.   Once tightened, we switched everything on again, and this time the clicking slowed as fuel pressure eventually built up in the lines.  But then we noticed that there was fuel flowing down one of the carb overflow lines onto the floor - A needle in the front carb was stuck.  So the carbs were dismantled and adjusted, and this time everything was sealed tight - No leaks anywhere when we turned the pump on again.

All switches include lights when on
(This is so useful being able to turn on the fuel pumps independently of the engine because one can do all the leak checking of the lines without having to run the engine.  Also having integral tell tale red lights in each switch helps is tell at a glance which items are switched on.)
Meanwhile I was putting oil in the engine.  I had put 5.5 litres
in some time ago in order to check for leaks, with 6.7 litres the original Healey volume.  I expected about 7.5 litres in total due to the change in sump design, and we ended up at 8 litres which was still just below the min mark on the dipstick.  So it will be about 9 litres in total, including filling the il filter etc for the first time.  So we have increased the oil volume by about 2 litres.

Whoops - A flat battery !
Time to hit the starter button.  We moved the car outside in case of lots of oil smoke, and then Steve hit the button - The motor hardly turned !  The battery had been charged a few days ago, but with all the testing we had been doing, there wasn't enough to turn the tight engine fast enough for it to catch.  (Whoops number 2 !) It almost started a couple of times, but then we fitted a booster battery - Which also didn't have enough juice ! (Whoops number 3 !)  We then took the battery out of Andrew's car and hooked that up using a welding cable to ensure the power got to the starter.  With Andrew choking the carbs a little, suddenly the engine fired and just dropped immediately into a steady idle - And given the side exhaust we were surprised at how quiet it was.  Steve was checking everything for the 60 seconds we had he running, and everything was good, so he shut it down.  We hadn't hooked up the fan, water pump or radiator so 60 seconds was plenty of time to make sure everything was OK, cold oil pressure was 80 psi, and the only smoke was off the new exhaust headers as the warmed up.  BRILLIANT !   Steve, as the engine builder from start to finish, was especially relieved and not surprisingly did a little jig after he shut the power off.  Watch for it at the very end of the video !

Gidget runs !

So with the engine now running, Steve had to take off to do some other chores at home (he is on holiday at the moment !), but he left me to install the radiator and fan etc so we can run the engine for longer later in the week.

Note - After recharging the battery fully overnight, it turned the engine over with no problem !

Rest of the pics are here :-  https://photos.app.goo.gl/2nNXpMazRtBn6Dny1

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