Zel's Fleet Blog...Lada, Citroen, Mercedes, Sinclair & AC Model 70

Post pictures and stories about your cars both present and past. Also post up "blogs" on your restoration projects - the more pictures the better! Note: blog-type threads often get few replies, but are often read by many members, and provide interest and motivation to other enthusiasts so don't be disappointed if you don't get many replies.
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Re: Zel's Fleet Blog...Lada, Saab, Citroen, Sinclair & AC Model 70

#41 Post by Zelandeth » Mon Feb 26, 2018 6:20 pm

So, since last time we've got a few things done here...Few updates rolled into one here. Apologies if some things don't quite make sense from the perspective of grammar - I've copied and pasted from a few separate posts elsewhere.

First task of the day though was to fit a non-return valve into the feed to the windscreen washer pump. This should stop the water draining back to the reservoir and requiring a million pushes of the button before anything gets to the washer. Have to admit for a manual washer pump I'm really surprised at the volume of water it gets onto the screen and the pressure with which it delivered.

Have successfully had life out of the indicator circuits now - especially having worked out which terminals to short out on the stalk (which is *utterly* knackered) so I can actually get life out of both the dash lamp and the exterior ones. Looking at it more carefully I think there's actually an entire part of the assembly outright missing.

The flash rate is a little higher than I'd usually like, but I think it'll be perfectly fine for a vehicle of this age. If anything else, the pattern being different to you'd expect from a modern car is a good thing as it makes it more visible, and with a car this small you want every bit of visibility you can get.

The more exciting part of this for me though is this...
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Which confirms to me that the front-rear lighting loom is in fact intact.

...Even if the fact that it was the brake light that started flashing did initially confuse me. The previous owner has managed to put the backplate on upside down. The indicator is actually meant to be at the top, I'll turn it around tomorrow. Now I better understand the lighting loom, running the missing section from left to right shouldn't be too hard. Just three wires. With a bit of luck, tomorrow I'll have fully functioning rear light clusters.

That's quite a bit boost to me as I was worried that was going to be a lot of extra work.

Another boost was that in having sorted out a number of dodgy grounds etc and such like was that this happened too.
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Yep, the windscreen wiper is now working just fine too. Self parking is a bit touchy, but that's entirely due to the rocker switches which we've already mentioned. I note that the Lucas replacement for the wiper one is actually a "two speed" version, so if I do fit that later I may well stuff a timer unit in there to give me an intermittent option, as that's actually a nice thing to have.

The list of vehicle systems needing to be brought back to life is actually shrinking quite a bit now.

May well look at getting the floor sorted out this coming week. The main brake line (which was the thing that was going to be the most awkward) has been replaced now and I've ascertained that the wiring loom under the floor is in perfect order, so no reason not to really. Be nice to actually have a floor and a seat in it!

In case you wondered, seating is going to be provided by the driver's seat from my old Xantia. I was originally planning to use this for an office chair, but this is a more immediate need. Yes it's a bit of a departure from originality and all that, but my spine will thank me for it.

Need to get myself a set of number plates made up for it as well. Will be in the correct typeface of course...modern ones would just look daft on this.


I decided to clean the speedometer up a bit. It was full of cobwebs before and one thoroughly dessicated spider. That was going to drive my OCD mad.

Being a typical 3.5" Smith's motorcycle style unit it had the twist-off bezel so was easy to get in to. Everything internally was actually in surprisingly clean condition behind the face, so I didn't mess with it. The only thing which seemed amiss was that the grease on the input coupling was quite gummy. Cleaned as much of that out as I could then put a fresh blob in there, it turns nice and freely now.

Didn't clean up too bad at all.
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The wiring isn't proving too bad really so long as it's tackled methodically - quite a few bits just didn't initially make sense because so many bits were missing. Having plugged a few of the gaps it's making a lot more sense now. Especially now I've mostly tracked down the bits which differ slightly from the diagrams that predate the car by 3 years. Given the degree of hand assembly involved no two seem to be the same.

A fair bit of head scratching was caused also due to a dodgy indicator stalk as behaviour wasn't making sense due to how many contacts are involved and it behaving inconsistently.

Astonishingly, the hydraulic service braking system is the only thing that's outright not working now I think! You wouldn't have thought that a few weeks ago when it was a lifeless hulk.


Well that was painless!

Couple of hours spent sitting out in the lovely sunshine this afternoon tidying up some of the engine bay wiring and reconnecting the tail lights properly. One thing I did change was to do the earthing locally. Originally they were grounded through a wire in the loom which went all the way back to the front bulkhead ground point. I decided that was daft, so grounded both ends of that wire, and stuck a ground connection to each cluster to a bolt under the ignition coil bracket on the near side, and the voltage regulator bracket on the offside.

Sure enough, look at that...we have fully functioning tail lights.
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(Note that there's no hazard flasher functionality - I may well add that via a "bolt on" unit as it seems a useful feature to have).

I was expecting a bit of a battle to get all three bits working at once, but nope...Brake, tail and indicators all operate correctly without having any effect on each other.
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They are currently missing their gaskets, so I'll need to come back to that at some point in the future, but it'll do for now.

Glad to report that the dashboard indicator is also behaving itself. You've no excuse for forgetting to turn the indicators off in this thing as it's by far the brightest light on the dash - I had to use the flash to get this photo without it totally washing out. Amber is the one for the indicators, again like quite a few other cars from this era (and still quite common on motorcycles I believe).
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New indicator stalk arrived today...
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The only difference (aside from the connector - which may well have been on the original one when it left the factory for all I know) I could see on the new stalk was that the new one has a purple wire that doesn't exist on the original. I've just terminated it and left it alone for now - guessing it might be a feed for a dim/dip device or something like that as it looks like it leads into the contacts that handle the headlight switching.

Pretty quick and painless job to get it wired in and the cover back in place.
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...Though we did initially have a bit of a head scratcher, in that turning the indicators on resulted in all four flashing (and the flasher unit sounding distinctly unhappy about this). Took a bit of head scratching, but it turned out to be that the screws I'd used to fasten it to the column were too long and were bridging the contacts for the left/right selection. Switching them out for some that were slightly shorter resolved that issue and got things working as they should.

The offside ones still flash slightly faster than the nearside ones for some reason, will sort that out later. My money's on dodgy tail light earths until proven otherwise.

Funny how adding something like this does so much to make the dash look more complete.
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I've not wrapped the wiring for this again yet, as I think I want to make it a bit longer as it currently pulls more on the loom at full right hand lock than I'd like. That's a job for another day when it's warmer though and I've more time.

In other news, the fuel gauge has revived itself! Noticed today that it was "twitching" when I turned the ignition off - and sure enough, it now responds as it should do to varying the impedance between the connections for it. Guess I'll pull it out of the dash for a clean then if it's going to work.
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Current fleet: 73 AC Model 70. 85 Sinclair C5. 90 Mercedes 208D AutoTrail Navajo. 93 Lada Riva 1.5i Estate. 96 Citroen Xantia Activa.

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Re: Zel's Fleet Blog...Lada, Saab, Citroen, Sinclair & AC Model 70

#42 Post by JPB » Mon Feb 26, 2018 7:00 pm

That column stalk (as well as the side/head lamp switch) appears to be of the same type as that found on Reliant kitten and Robin, as well as a few BL things. The purple wire should be for the horn and was also the colour used for random things such as lighters, interior lamps, etc. where fitted.

At the rate you're going, this should be back on the road by the end of March! :thumbs:
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Re: Zel's Fleet Blog...Lada, Saab, Citroen, Sinclair & AC Model 70

#43 Post by Zelandeth » Mon Feb 26, 2018 7:18 pm

Cheers for that - I'll double check. The horn feed is purple with a black trace on the original, and looked to be brown with a black trace on the new one. I'll get the meter out to check.

Can't directly check the old one for that as the horn push was totally seized.
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Re: Zel's Fleet Blog...Lada, Saab, Citroen, Sinclair & AC Model 70

#44 Post by Zelandeth » Wed Feb 28, 2018 7:32 pm

Yesterday I very briefly ventured out in the garage to look for some parts, and abruptly beat a hasty retreat as it was *freezing* in there. I did however come across the rear view mirror in one of the boxes, so reattached that to the car.
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It needs cleaning yet, and will need to come off anyhow when I want to get the trim panel above the windscreen out to be re-covered...but I figure it's safer in situ than in the bottom of a box full of heavy metal things.

It sounds like we *might* be moving towards a deal on another one of these (missing most of its drivetrain and interior) which if it works out would tick a lot of boxes that currently have "missing" or "unserviceable" next to them. The tricky bit will be deciding which one to actually dedicate the work to. The floor and chassis on the "donor" vehicle sound like they're in better order than on mine...and it's got a mostly complete albeit scruffy in places body.

My gut feeling - especially as I'll probably want to remove the donor body to improve access to do some of the repairs - is to keep working on this car. Reasoning mainly being that this chassis number already has a V5C associated with it, and there's a working engine and drive system already in it. Swapping the bodywork I reckon will be a lot less work than disturbing an engine which generally seems to be happy enough with life as it stands. Plus the brakes here are only a few pipes (and possibly a couple of cylinders) away from working, whereas on the donor they're seized on. The electrics on there are apparently in poor state as well...Mine are a mess, but actually generally working reliably.

It's still very much a deal in development though, so might not even work out yet...but if it did, it would potentially save me quite a lot of work.

I'd definitely offer that rolling chassis and the body I've got here should anyone want it - I reckon for someone who's not got any real interest in restoring one of these to their original condition could create something that's a lot of fun with it - a 50s hot-rod inspired beastie with the huge rear arches and a suitably mad bike engine could be a lot of fun. The chassis construction is simple and over-engineered enough that it's a huge blank canvas to someone with some engineering know how.


Had one of those days today where I seem to have spent the entire day firefighting small jobs all of which took 20 times longer than they should have done, do didn't have much time to dedicate to interesting things.

I did however get a photo worth sharing. Our dog, Tesla was at one point sitting outside in the snow, successfully looking quite regal as he surveyed his snowy kingdom.

However, when I went to get the photo, what I got instead was this.
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Not what I was aiming for - but far more amusing. A bit off topic, so I apologise - but it seemed worth sharing.

While watching everyone around me working themselves into a complete and utter panic because we'd had 1/32" of snow here, I decided that the cool weather was an ideal opportunity to take the dog out for a decent run. It's been a while since he was out (because it took me several weeks to actually get around to sorting the puncture in the C5's offside rear tyre), and he seemed to enjoy it. I'd missed using the C5 as well.
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Was out for a good hour and a half, and I think I maybe saw two people the entire time. You'd seriously think it was some sort of nuclear winter with lethal fallout...not just a bit of snow.

I did get a couple of things done on the AC - I've extended the loom from the indicator/headlight stalk so it's not stressed by the movement of the handlebars - I've routed the wiring in such a way that it shouldn't wind up rubbing against anything over time too hopefully.

No photo of that because A: It's not really that interesting, and B: Because I'd left my phone in the house so I don't have one!

Main tasks for tomorrow are to find a proper live feed for the main beam flash function, enlarge the cutout in the stalk base cover to allow that to work without fouling on the cover, and finally to hopefully figure out why the nearside indicators flash at twice the rate of the nearside ones. My money's on comedy earthing issues with the tail light clusters as the lampholders are quite tarnished.
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Current fleet: 73 AC Model 70. 85 Sinclair C5. 90 Mercedes 208D AutoTrail Navajo. 93 Lada Riva 1.5i Estate. 96 Citroen Xantia Activa.

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Re: Zel's Fleet Blog...Lada, Saab, Citroen, Sinclair & AC Model 70

#45 Post by JPB » Wed Feb 28, 2018 8:37 pm

That doggo is just so darned beautiful! 8-) So much so, that I forgot to dig out my list of helpline numbers for those who are afflicted by this dreadful ill that sees rational, capable individuals digging about in dark, damp garages and lockups the whole world over in pursuit of that elusive 1922 OopsIdiditagain-Blewtheleccybudget Grand Touring armoured people carrier.
You would almost certainly qualify for some form of special award for saving one of these historically hysterical hooded handcarts, ( :oops: ), but to take affirmative action in the evolution of two of the things? :shock:

I'm off to start an e-petition in an attempt to secure the appropriate peerage.
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Re: Zel's Fleet Blog...Lada, Saab, Citroen, Sinclair & AC Model 70

#46 Post by Zelandeth » Thu Mar 01, 2018 4:53 pm

So despite Snowmageddon going on outside, our post arrived as normal. This meant that I finally received the new ignition warning light for the AC.

Unfortunately, on closer inspection it turned out that the bezel on the new lamp was slightly different.

New one on the left.
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This would have proven hugely annoying to me, and probably would have meant replacing all of the existing warning lights so they matched. Luckily I was able to salvage enough of the housing from the original ignition light after I extracted the rotten lampholder with excessive amounts of brute force that the new lampholder would still sit snugly in place.

With the new lamp in place however, the ignition light sprang back to life for the first time in probably many years.
IMG_20180301_143740_small.jpg (84.06 KiB) Viewed 1378 times
The other plus side of having salvaged the original lamp assembly is that I don't have one lens that's far less faded than the others - they all match nicely.
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Current fleet: 73 AC Model 70. 85 Sinclair C5. 90 Mercedes 208D AutoTrail Navajo. 93 Lada Riva 1.5i Estate. 96 Citroen Xantia Activa.

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Re: Zel's Fleet Blog...Lada, Saab, Citroen, Sinclair & AC Model 70

#47 Post by Zelandeth » Wed Mar 07, 2018 12:37 pm

Right, so when we left things yesterday (and I was getting scolded for being out in the garage too late) we had achieved the following:

[] FINALLY managed to get the access cover off so I could get into the drive system properly. No more trying to reach through the wheel arch and shredding my wrists on rough fibreglass.
IMG_20180306_204411_small.jpg (122.38 KiB) Viewed 1365 times
Sadly the cover surrounding the one screw did get slightly mangled, but it should be easy enough to sort - especially as it will be hidden behind the driver's seat when in use. I wound up having to actually hacksaw through the clip the screw was held into - the two had just utterly fused together.

[] Front brake pipes all swapped out. Flexi is a NOS item as the original had collapsed internally apparently as I couldn't get any fluid through it.
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[] Nearside rear centre to axle rigid line replaced.
IMG_20180306_213702_small.jpg (123.73 KiB) Viewed 1365 times
[] Likewise the offside...

Was somewhat relieved to discover that I did still remember how to use the pipe flaring tool given it's probably been more than a decade since I last used it.
IMG_20180306_213656_small.jpg (131.68 KiB) Viewed 1365 times
I was originally of two minds about whether to change the rear flexis now or come back to that later. I've got two NOS ones to hand. The ones on there seem absolutely fine (no perishing, the rubber is still nicely flexible), but the ferrules are quite rusty. I've told myself to stop procrastinating and just get it done - so they'll be swapped today. While I'm at it, I may as well just change the last bit of metal line that goes to the wheel cylinders. It's totally covered in grease so has been well protected from the elements I reckon, but is hard to see to inspect in normal use, so I reckon I'll just get it done. Peace of mind and all that. Not as though making a couple of 4" long bits of pipe takes long.

[] Got a proper look at the drive belt and ascertained that it definitely needs adjusting. Belt itself seems in fine order though. The bolts in question weren't too impressed with the idea of moving, so everything's been left soaking in Plusgas overnight.
IMG_20180306_213650_small.jpg (106.81 KiB) Viewed 1365 times
So...This afternoon I shall attempt the following:

[] Replace both rear brake flexi hoses and the flexi to wheel cylinder rigid lines. Bleed brakes again (given the crud that was originally in there, I was planning to do this several times anyway). At this point *every* brake pipe will be either brand new or new old stock.
[] Adjust drive belt tension.
[] Try actually driving the thing around the driveway a bit!
[] Check if any wheel cylinders are either not working, leaking or sticking. If so, order replacements. I know at least one or two are working though.
[] If time permits, get the pressure washer and degreaser out again to clean up the transmission now that I can get at it.

Oh...and buy some more petrol as she's pretty much used the entirety of the original gallon I got now.

I'll let you know (hopefully this evening) how I get on. If I can figure out somewhere to stick the camera (I don't have a cameraman today) I may record some video of it moving around slightly less tentatively than last time.
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Current fleet: 73 AC Model 70. 85 Sinclair C5. 90 Mercedes 208D AutoTrail Navajo. 93 Lada Riva 1.5i Estate. 96 Citroen Xantia Activa.

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Re: Zel's Fleet Blog...Lada, Saab, Citroen, Sinclair & AC Model 70

#48 Post by Zelandeth » Tue May 08, 2018 8:45 pm

Been a while since I updated things here...My bad!

Things with the Invacar have progressed about as far as they can for now. It's running, driving and more or less stopping. All electrical systems aside from the fuel gauge (don't have a sender unit) and interior light are working.

However there will shortly(ish) be a second one inbound. This has a scruffy but at least mostly present body, however is missing the engine, gearbox and most of the interior. Plan is obviously to make one good one out of the two. It sounds as though the floorpan and chassis of the second one are in far better condition than those on mine, so most likely my running gear will be transplanted into that. I'll know more once they're both here and I can do a proper assessment. It doesn't make sense for me to do too much more with mine though until then as I may well simply end up duplicating a heap of work. I'm really excited to get that here so I can start working on making it into more of a working car than garage toy, however the current owner of the donor is quite a busy guy, so I don't want to badger them too much!

The chassis I've got here though is still definitely repairable - quite easily in the grand scheme of things. As such it won't get scrapped, it'll be offered to anyone who might want it, as it could make a cracking base for some form of kit car or off-road toy. Invacar based dragster anyone?

There are a few very brief bits of video evidence of it being rather more alive than when picked up now...

YouTube Link: Initial Brake System Testing (a.k.a. Me trying not to kill myself by careering into the garage).

YouTube Link: Variomatic Drive System Test (on axle stands!) Part 1, Dash View.

YouTube Link: Variomatic Drive System Test Part 2, Belt View.

In other news, the Saab has now left my fleet after six years with me. I was really sorry to see it go, but I think it was really for the best. The car stands a really good chance I think of getting restored to its former glory, and I really don't think I would have ever got around to it.

Today it was the turn of the Lada to get some attention. Time for an MOT.

Despite the car not having been on the road since October, she seemed happy enough (even if the brakes feel mildly terrifying after driving the Activa for several months!). Generally the test was pretty uneventful, even my cable-tied repair of the rear silencer hanger passed muster only earning an advisory.

What did cause a headache though was the emission test.
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...Quite spectacularly.
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First port of call was of course to check the coolant temperature sensor, which while slightly out wasn't massively far off the mark. The table in the manual does state very clearly that "all values are approximate" as well, so I think I can tick that off. I might order a new one anyhow if they're available as it can't hurt to have a spare and Lada spares are comically cheap for the most part.

Next up I think is to check to see what the lambda sensor voltages are doing, as disconnecting it didn't have anywhere near as notable an effect as I think it should...I want to see for certain that the system is running in closed loop mode...if not I'll need to hunt down why not, and cross my fingers that it's not a problem with the ECU that seems to be made of Unobtainium.

Given that there's no easy way to break into the signal path for the lambda sensor at the engine end, it will be measured at the ECU connector, so the cabin has been left looking like this for the night.
IMG_20180508_185931-small.jpg (108.07 KiB) Viewed 1235 times
Fingers crossed tomorrow I'll get a bit deeper into it, and *hopefully* work out what the heck is going on. The thought that it's a throttle body from quite a high mileage car has crossed my mind, so I'd really like to check the fuel pressure to see if the regulator is doing its job properly and doesn't need adjustment (it is accessible), though I'm not going to start "twiddling" stuff like that unless I've a clear way of measuring it or I could well wind up chasing my own tail endlessly.
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Re: Zel's Fleet Blog...Lada, Saab, Citroen, Sinclair & AC Model 70

#49 Post by Zelandeth » Wed May 09, 2018 7:44 pm

Today I continued to investigate the rich running issue on the Lada.

Yesterday I checked out the coolant and air temperature sensors and confirmed that they were giving sensible values. Today I decided that the next step was to have a look at the lambda sensor signal...

The lambda sensor signal ground (which should be a solid ground, not just a floating notional zero volt line) is sitting at 1.5V with relation to ground...Which is essentially imparting a +1.5V offset to the lambda signal...which should vary between 0.1 and 1V...so is simply erroring out as "out of range" I suspect.

Some further poking around revealed that the input line is sitting equally immovably at 0.7V, irrespective whether there's a sensor connected to it or not. Hmmm...The wiring measures out okay too...so that 0.7V is coming from the ECU. Hmmm...It does appear that we've got a stuffed ECU.

Reckon that I need to get hold of a known good ECU before going too much further here or I'll be chasing my tail I reckon.

Why do I have the sneaking suspicion that I've just tracked down the fault which originally took the donor vehicle for my injection system off the road...
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Current fleet: 73 AC Model 70. 85 Sinclair C5. 90 Mercedes 208D AutoTrail Navajo. 93 Lada Riva 1.5i Estate. 96 Citroen Xantia Activa.

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Re: Zel's Fleet Blog...Lada, Saab, Citroen, Sinclair & AC Model 70

#50 Post by Zelandeth » Thu May 10, 2018 6:32 pm

Okay, so we definitely have a problem with the ECU.

A bit of digging around revealed that Niva ECUs are indeed rather hard to come by these days. In fact I could only find one, and that was on German eBay, with an asking price north of £170...for a used one from a scrap vehicle. Now I'd have been happy to consider that sort of price for a brand new one that had been floating around for goodness knows how long in its protective packaging...but for a secondhand one that's no more of a known quantity than the one I have, just nope...If I'm going to have to spend that sort of money I'd be just as well picking up a Megasquirt or similar kit, even though that comes with the attendant hassle of having to get it properly set up, and probably having to do quite a bit of wiring.

So it was time to engage a bit of lateral thinking. I know that Lada bought the entire injection kit as an assembly from GM in the mid 90s. In the eyes of GM this would have been a pretty small order, so they weren't about to go and make up a custom ECU from scratch now were they? No, they'd use an off-the-shelf part simply configured to suit the vehicle. The actual ECU is probably identical to one used in a heap of GM (and probably other makers) vehicles from the mid to late 90s...the only differences being in the plug-in component which is variously referred to in bits of documentation as the "vehicle identity module," "engine calibrator" or "vehicle data unit."

...It's the blue thing plugged into the slot at the right hand end of the ECU board in the photo below.
IMG_20180510_150049_small.jpg (119 KiB) Viewed 1217 times
The fact that this appears to contain the only non-volatile memory on the entire board seems to back up this theory.

A quick bit of Google searching turned up that the unit used in some versions of the Corsa B were also made by Delco, used ALDL comms, and had an identical case, and identical connectors. I'm pretty certain that other than the plug-in module with the vehicle configuration data and the label on the case that it's identical to the Lada one...Given that they're available for £20 including shipping, I've ordered one and will give it a shot.

If it works, brilliant! If not...well...I'll need to have a very serious think about where I'm going from here. It'll either be Megasquirt or pull the whole engine and stuff a pre-cat generation one in there...Before anyone suggests the Fiat TC transplant, I'd rather not go down that road. It's over-done I think, and totally changes the character of the vehicle. I actually quite like the character of the old Lada unit...and given it's only got 18K on the clock it seems daft to cast it aside. Not to mention that I've already invested quite a bit of time, effort and money in the injection work so far.

I did have a look at the potential of repairing the faulty ECU, but I think this is a non-starter. Virtually every bit of silicon on the board, whether it be a transistor or IC has a custom Delco part number on it, which makes it really hard to do any meaningful tests on anything without a known good unit to compare to.

Watch this space...Hopefully once I've got the new ECU here we'll be well on the way to a fresh MOT.
My website - aka. My *other* waste of time
Current fleet: 73 AC Model 70. 85 Sinclair C5. 90 Mercedes 208D AutoTrail Navajo. 93 Lada Riva 1.5i Estate. 96 Citroen Xantia Activa.

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