Nothing else can go wrong…?

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So, yesterday I headed over to John’s with my unleaded metro head. We carefully drilled out the blanking from where the heater hose is on a minor – it took quite some time, around 1.5 hours, but we got there. Having done it “properly”, I then decided that for once, the whole job was to be done properly. Because I really need everything to be sorted for when I start my placement.

So, I set to.

Off to the shop to buy the correct waterpump (rather than bodge the one I’d got), the correct thermostat, fresh coolant…

…back to my garage. Lunch.

Half an hour of scraping and cleaning the head, flushing the waterway, getting all the crap off…

Dissassemble the engine…

It all went well, carb and exhaust off, servo pipes off, radiator out, alternator slackened, until… the stud that I thought I’d stripped on assembly. It turned out it was the nut that was stripped and it wouldn’t come off. Obviously, the rocker was now stuck on there, meaning the head was stuck on there…meaning… gah.

So I levered at it, pulled, wiggled, grasped firmly with molegrips and pulled vertically – stood in the engine bay, prodded, swore.

I’d been going about 3 hours overall when I decided to break out the ‘big guns’, or the small but finely toothed guns. Preying to all things preyable to – and putting the spark plugs back in the bore, I set to with a junior hacksaw on the bolt. Having cut one side off it I tried, again, to get it off (hitting with small chissel sideways, molegrips, wrench). No luck. So I cut another flat off, and battered it some more. Watching the unnerving pile of metal filings….

Suddenly it started to unscrew. Not ‘come off’, oh no. but actually just plain unscrew. So I took it off.

At this point it should have got easier, but no, things started to get worse.

Some of the studs had come out of the block instead of the engine, so I spent a merry hour removing the nuts from the studs and reinserting them. Then I put the head gasket on. Then I fought with the new head until it went on. Ra! Or so I thought.

As I tightened it up, paranoia was not enough to protect me. One of the rocker retaining nuts sheared at a mere 20lb ft. Now since it’s meant to be tightened to 24 lb ft (and yes, before you ask, I was gradually tightening all of them in the specified sequence) this was annoying. I could feel it starting to ‘go’, but… bah. Anyway. With some effort I managed to get that stud out. Replaced it with one from the head I’d just removed and tried again. Now they’re all only done up to 20 lb ft, because I’m scared to go beyond that.

Then it was the turn of headbolt number 8. Headbolt number 8 is ‘special’, because it holds the engine mount *as well* as being a headbolt. It sheared at 40lb ft. The second bolt I put on, that also sheared at 40 lb ft. Then I twigged that these are Morris Minor ones, not Ital ones, and that the Minor is torqued, I think, to 40lb ft, not 50 (which the Ital is).

The stud by this point was looking rather conical, so when I used my ‘phone a freind’ to get new head nuts and she suggested bringing studs I cheered. Or at least reduced my panic levels slightly. She brought them, but while I was waiting I swapped the waterpumps over.

This went fine.

I then removed the stud from the engine (grasp hard with molegrips and twist…), during which time I heard an unnerving ‘ssshlllup’ noise, which is probably oil getting between the headgasket layers thus preventing it from sealing nicely. At any rate another Morris Minor one went in, with the nut, which was then tightened to 40lb ft. So, I’ve got 8 bolts at 50 lb ft, and 1 at 40lb ft. Anyone want to guess where it’s going to leak from?

The remainder of assembly avoided actual disasters, but everything was just hard. The exhaust didn’t want to line up, but with John’s help it was coaxed on. It took 3 or 4 goes to get the frigging washers in there though.

The relocation of the fuel pipe to the mechanical pump went shockingly easily…

The accelerator cable lost one turn of wire going in to the carb linkage. So off it came to remove the stray wire. Then I thought hey, let’s swap it for the new one. Only no, the new one’s sleeve is shorter. Then a genius idea, I’ll swap the inners over. So I wipped out the damaged one and put in the new inner. Connected it up and… no, it’s actually an inch too short.

So, then I unwound the broken strand from the entire cable, and spent a good twenty minutes persuading it to feed through the old sleeve again and *eventually* got it back on and connected.

By this time I could see my breath in the air, but had become so cold myself that I didn’t feel the cold.

By now I’d been working solidly without a break for 8.5 hours and was starting to tremble.

I got the radiator back in, as I was bolting it in I could hear Trey preparing to go to bed, and put on a desparate spurt to get it finished and back together. Finally, fighting with my now stiff and shaking hands I got all the pipework connected; the electric petrol pump disconnected… and I thought all the bolts tight.

I primed the petrol pump….

I checked over the engine bay…

I got in Rebecca and turned the key… she started… Hurra-oh-fuck, run, engine off.

The pump was managing to pump alright; the engine bay was now well coated in petrol.

I pushed Rebecca out so I could shut the garage door…. limped in and upstairs to bed. Cold and beaten. And then remembered I’d not tightened up the radiator bolts, or the heater hose. When my hair is dry I’ll head out and start again… I hope today goes better, but…. I hurt all over.


Kate is lord and mistress of all she surveys at