As I mentioned earlier in the Donington write up I really overheated on the last lap and purchased a 41k 2005 ZR engine from a breaker. After the final laps at Oulton Park were causing the car to miss like anything I decided the 4 week gap to Snetterton would be enough time for me to swap the engines.
Because of my commitments to things like work and the wife and kids – workshop time is limited. I know I can get an engine out in 2 hours but swapping things over with the new engine and then refitting would be another two evenings work.
The engine comes out relatively easily, especially as most of its been undone before. The engine is coated in oil which makes the whole job mucky but its out and on the deck in a couple of hours.
I then take another eventing to get the clutch and other bits and pieces swapped over, then with some assistance its hung back in the hole and connected back to the gearbox. A few spare hours on Saturday afternoon allowed me to go up and fit everything bar the metal coolant pipe, thermostat and inlet manifold on as I need two replacement thermostat O rings from Rimmer Bros before they can go on tomorrow night.
A long drive for us from Essex (although nothing to what the Scot’s guys have to do to get down south) on the Friday to Oulton Park for my first visit ever to the track. Arriving at 4:30pm we watch the last of the Friday testing then get the car in the garage for the usual race prep. The drive up on Friday meant for the first time my wife and kids couldn’t make it which was a shame but gave me a little more time in the evening to get the car cleaned and ready.
As per usual, the morning rush started at 7:30am with sign on and getting the car through Scrutineering this time with no problems and in to the 8am drivers briefing. My father and I had taken the view that the car engine will either go in qualifying or last all day and I did find myself looking up at the Orange boards around the circuit so I knew where best to stop!
Qualifying I took it very steady, rarely revving above 6k due to the fact that after the head gasket work I hadn’t had a chance to run the car. A few blasts up to 7k proved my VVC timing was setup fine but 10 minutes in the car started missing at 4k but I could accelerate through just. Qualifying very slowly but on purpose I pull in to the pits and we remove the plugs. The gap on plug 1 is virtually non existent so I bin the plugs and put a new set in hoping that will help in race 1.
Race 1 after he drivers photo and the car is transformed, I shoot past a few cars including Paul Bryson in my class at the start and the car has the best pace yet. Paul gets past after a lap and chases Ian Boulton down but I can just keep in touch for the first race this season. No missing and no overheating for the first time ever makes me relax and see how fast I can go. Then all of a sudden its red flags and Paul Savage and Jack Roberts have had a nasty shunt so we queue on the start finish straight while the accident is dealt with. Both are good although Jack has to be checked out at hospital.
The restart and I start really well, flying past Ian and Paul and several 170’s then Ian zooms back determined to regain the lead he had just had wiped out, Ian takes to the grass then comes back round I know his car is faster so he gets by as does Paul within a corner but I am proud of the start to be honest. I again try and keep within sight but the car just seems to be down a few BHP and I come in third just after the 190 guys lap me!
Top three of each class in Scrutineering have to remove their exhaust manifolds for inspection so some cursing and swearing takes place along with two sheared studs and mines off – passed, then refitted. Thanks to Andrew Ashton for loan of a socket. After lunch we get the car in the garage to check levels and there is a grinding from the engine bay, this turns out to be a bolt that’s worked lose in the rear VVC cam cover that has split the timing belt and worn through the case. The only spare belt is this one thanks goodness so Dad and I swap it in around 15 mins.
Race 2 and the start is not so good but I try and stay in touch with Paul and Ian once again but still seem to just be slightly down on power. The car is running until around half way through the race when the engine management light comes on and there is a lot of misfiring. Acceleration is slow but there is no smoke and nothing being dumped on the track, so I will see the race out. After the completion of the race I find that I didn’t see Paul had crashed out leaving me in net second place and that is defo not a bad days results given the state of the car leaving Donington!
So on investigation after the Donington final lap disaster, and with a new 41000 mile engine purchased by my father on a pallet in the workshop – I found the bottom hose of the radiator had blown off using the original spring type clip. Therefore losing all the coolant and then cooking the engine.
There is a lot of oil in the o/s engine bay and under the car which I think is the front crankshaft oil seal so I order one before going on hols for two weeks. When I return and go to fit, that area around the oil pump is dry as a bone so it isn’t that after all and it looks like both oil and water is weeping out the front of the head in one of the usual weak spots. This is not good, with a week to Oulton Park and no time what are the options:
- Pull out of Oulton Park, use that weekend to fit new engine.
- Change the head gasket hoping engine is OK and race it.
I decide that given the effort getting this far I should try and race, so after a debate from my Mechanic mate we decided rather than use the new MLS type gasket as one would normally use I should use an original type with the sealant in place and go for getting it through the one weekend. I break my own record with a 1hr 10mins head off and onto the bench. The head is OK, signs that it has got are there, the piston liner marks around the valves but not too bad seen a lot worse. The bad bit is piston number 1 as the photo shows is rather chipped on the crown and while the rings seem OK and there is no movement this is not good.
But we’ve come this far and one answer I have is at least the pistons are 160 ones which I forgot to check last time as I do question the performance of the engine as is well documented. So it all goes back together and runs OK, just wont tick over to well when warm and I can live with that!
We will see how it goes at OP.