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

#401 Post by Zelandeth » Sat Sep 28, 2019 10:16 am

Real life has been doing a good job of getting thoroughly in the way lately so nothing major has really been going on with the fleet.

Main thing done since the last update has been finally getting the dashcam fitted to the van. It obviously wasn't doing any good sitting in a box on a shelf where it had been for a few weeks. I despise having obviously modern stuff stuck all over an older vehicle but given some of the nonsense I've seen on the roads lately (including a few near run ins with what was obviously someone trying to run a crash for cash scheme - cutting in front of you on a 70mph dual carriageway then slamming on the brakes in a car with no working brake lights) I just decided that it was necessary for peace of mind.

The unit I went with in the end tucks away pretty discreetly behind the rear view mirror and isn't really conspicuous.

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It's visible from the passenger side in the cab, which is pretty unavoidable.

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However is more or less invisible from the driver's seat so I'll call that a win.

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Getting the wiring for that routed was an absolute pain. The term "solidly built" definitely applies to the cab of this vehicle...so getting enough slack in the headlining to move the edge the 1/8" or so necessary to tuck the wiring away required quite a bit of dismantling. Both sun visors, the rear view mirror base bracket, passenger side grab handle, driver's side grab handle blanking plates, both door seals all had to come out. Power is coming from a splice into the dashboard 12V socket into an additional socket tucked away behind the fuse box. Will make it easier for me to swap things out in the future rather than directly hard wiring it into the vehicle loom.

While I had the cab somewhat in bits I also turned my attention to this.

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It's the sonar detector head for the original alarm system. This is totally redundant as a far more modern and discreet system has been installed (plus a couple of personal improvements to what I felt were shortcomings in it out the box). I had left this in place though as removing it would have left three holes in a really obvious location on the top of the dash.

Having had a bit of a think I decided that this was something I could replace the defunct alarm sensor with which would also do something at least vaguely useful.

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Doesn't look like something you would be surprised to see in a camper designed for exploring I reckon. Yes it's a bit tacky, but it's better than a hole in the top of the dash and doesn't scream "hey this vehicle only has an alarm from 1990 still fitted" quite so loudly.

Also yes, the dash really is that filthy... really need to give the cab a good valet.
My website - aka. My *other* waste of time
Current fleet: 73 AC Model 70. 85 Sinclair C5. 85 Jaguar XJ-S V12 HE. 90 Mercedes 208D AutoTrail Navajo. 96 Citroen Xantia Activa.

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

#402 Post by Zelandeth » Sat Oct 05, 2019 11:34 pm

Not had a chance to really touch the fleet till this evening, though was lucky enough to get a chance to take a trip down memory lane last weekend.

There was a show at my local museum, however it was BMC themed...and I currently lack any BMC motors (even though the Invacar contains large portions of stuff from their parts bins I figure it probably didn't count!)...so couldn't take a car. Well so it seemed until a friend mentioned they had several potential vehicles appropriate for the show and offered the opportunity to assist.

I immediately jumped at the chance to take the reigns of this.

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Must have been fifteen years since I was last in an MGB, possibly longer since I'd driven one. My memory was that I'd been rather smitten with Craig's roadster though back then...even though I was a very green and somewhat nervous driver. I'd pondered whether a "B" should be on my shopping list at some point, but seemed a good idea to drive one again before deciding that.

Yes I know they're everywhere and some people seem to love to hate them because of that...but C'mon how's it possible to not like the view from here...

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Or here...

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The owner described the car as "a rather tired and rough" example. Has 104K miles on the clock and has never been subject to a restoration so wasn't expecting miracles...Need not have worried, I'd dispute the claim as to condition and instead would have said she's a lovely old thing with whom I got along swimmingly. Drives better to be honest than I remembered Craig's one doing. I had forgotten quite how difficult it is to get in or out while retaining any degree of dignity though simply because you seem to sit several inches below the surface of the road. Once you're in though it's comfy. Goes well, sounds good, rides well, nice gearchange, nice communicative steering, looks fantastic, what's not to like? Only bit I didn't enjoy was the bit where I had to hand the keys back!

Yep...I think an MGB definitely needs to be on fleet at some point. Only downside to this one is it's the wrong colour. Though British Racing Green is second on the list... ideally would be Snapdragon Yellow though. Had a very early Mini Metro in that colour which I have many fond memories of, so would be a nice nod to the memory of that car. Would prefer an early car like this one, not so much that I've anything against the rubber bumper look exterior (though it's not that hard to change that if you're so inclined I imagine), but that I far prefer the earlier style dash and interior.

If anyone would like to swap a Lada Riva for an MGB...you know where I am.

Rather than clutter up this thread with a hundred or so images, if anyone wants to take a look at the photos I took during the event, here's a link to my ImgBB album which you're welcome to take a look at if interested.

Back to my actual fleet. Not really had a chance to do much lately but finally did get a free half hour this evening before the light faded, so wanted to do something useful.

The one thing which has really been making the van look extremely shabby is the paintwork on the nearside. The offside is really dull and in need of a polish, but that's it. The nearside though has really nasty staining and what look to be runs from someone attacking it with TFR at some point. Seriously folks...don't do that to old school paint finishes like this.

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There was also a black smear on the door which wouldn't shift.

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I had previously attacked it with polish by hand to see if it would shift and hadn't managed to make any headway. Today though I was armed with cutting compound and a power polisher...so did that work any better?

What do you think?

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Sorry...not a great photo as it was rapidly getting dark.

I reckon that's taken about ten years off it! Ran out of daylight so the white section below the rubbing strip in front of the door hasn't been done. Also haven't touched anything above that...I can still see a bit of the run pattern in the blue area bit it's far better. So I think one more skim over with the compound should get rid of it...then the whole side will be gone over with Autoglym Super Resin Polish and unreasonable amounts of wax to protect it.

The power polisher is a godsend dealing with a vehicle this size...shudder to think how long it would take me to cut, polish and wax this thing by hand!
My website - aka. My *other* waste of time
Current fleet: 73 AC Model 70. 85 Sinclair C5. 85 Jaguar XJ-S V12 HE. 90 Mercedes 208D AutoTrail Navajo. 96 Citroen Xantia Activa.

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

#403 Post by Zelandeth » Sun Oct 06, 2019 10:27 pm

One thing which was obvious yesterday when working with the polisher was that the nearside rear corner was looking rather ratty because of the sealant between the side of the van and the bumper had disintegrated. This has been letting water get in behind there too which can't be a good thing.

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Bit of fresh sealant has improved things - though it didn't go on quite as tidily as I'd hoped.

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The bumper needs painting anyway so will need to come off at some point anyhow. As such I'm not worrying too much about it for now...keeping the weather out has priority.



Biggest issue I've been noticing in the last couple of week is a downright horrific squeaky rattle in the cab coming from the passenger door. This was rapidly driving me insane. The window winder on that door has never worked in my ownership of the van, though the window could be manually slid down by a couple of inches. So a suction cup had been employed to stop it from dropping open. I was pretty sure that the rattle and the dodgy window were most likely connected.

The moment I started stripping things down I immediately became suspicious. The screws holding the door handle on were cross threaded and this was found wedging the captive nut in place...

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Yes, that's a self tapper held in place with blu-tac. This suggested to me that I was very likely to find that Billy the Bodger had been messing around in my door.

Yeah...I wasn't quite braced for what greeted me when the door card was removed.

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Okay...that linkage should be straight. It's a good 2mm thick, so must have taken some serious effort to bend! This was wedged around the wrong side of the window runner and jammed against the base of the door, presumably to keep the window up. Cue a bit of investigation to try to figure out what on earth was going on.

This appears to be the root cause of the trouble.

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This fits through the whole assembly, with the coil spring slotted into the back of it. Now I need to track down a diagram to ascertain whether something has broken off this or whether there's meant to be an external clip to hold everything together. It looks like there may originally been something involved with a square section involved.

Before I could do anything though I needed to try to get the linkage back into something vaguely resembling the right shape.

I've no idea how they bent it like that...but getting it back involved getting it cherry red with the MAPP torch and battering it with a 4lb lump hammer.

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Better. Though they've managed to bend it in this axes too.

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Don't think this will stop anything from working though.

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This allowed me to reassemble things to prove that everything was there fundamentally - I stuck a bolt temporarily in the place of the aforementioned fastener just to hold everything together for testing purposes.

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Well that looks a bit healthier doesn't it? You can see the scratches by the bottom of the window runner showing where the lifting quadrant used to be. The cable ties are locking things in place just now as the bolt through the middle allows a bit of movement so the winder doesn't reliably stay meshed with the teeth on the quadrant. As stated though this was purely a test.

I think once I've sorted that "thing" in the middle this should be back in action. The teeth on both the winder and the lifting quadrant look perfect, the runners all seem fine etc. Just need to figure out what bits are missing and replace them.

While I had the door apart I took the opportunity to make sure the drainage channels were clear in the bottom of the door and vacuumed thirty years worth of detritus out of the bottom of the door. The paint is flaking off quite badly in several areas, so it will shortly be getting drowned in rust convertor and cavity wax.

Reassembly required a little remedial work too as I'd mentioned earlier, the screws holding the grab handle on were utterly cross threaded and good for nothing but scrap.

Luckily the ones on the driver's door were fine so I was able to confirm the screws were standard M6 items. The nuts in the door responded fine to being chased out with a tap.

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Suitable replacement screws were sourced from the drawer of random fasteners and the door put back together.

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The suction cup previously holding the window up can go now...it was mainly being used to ensure the glass didn't drop on my head while I was working inside the door.

While I've not had a chance to take it out yet, it doesn't rattle at idle any more and now clonks shut rather than clatters shut...so hopefully will be quieter on the move. I do need to look at adding some sound deadening in the doors though as they do drum something rotten...I get the impression some Dynamat (or similar) could knock a huge percentage off the noise levels in the cab. Replacing some of that which has been removed from the bulkhead and floor when welding has been done in the past probably wouldn't go amiss either.
My website - aka. My *other* waste of time
Current fleet: 73 AC Model 70. 85 Sinclair C5. 85 Jaguar XJ-S V12 HE. 90 Mercedes 208D AutoTrail Navajo. 96 Citroen Xantia Activa.

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

#404 Post by Zelandeth » Mon Oct 07, 2019 11:15 pm

Went out for a test run today to see how much quieter the cab was.

Had to break out the special swear words almost immediately as it became apparent that the squeak was in fact still cheerfully chirping away. Quick bit of investigation soon found the source.

YouTube Link

I'll need to delve a bit deeper tomorrow to figure out exactly what the culprit is and work out how to shut it up. Suffice to say it's a high priority as that's the sort of noise which will drive me round the twist in short order. Hopefully some fresh grease on the various moving parts, springs etc will shut it up.

The door needed to be pulled apart anyway though to investigate the window winder issues so it wasn't time wasted anyhow.

Speaking of the window winder I dropped by the Merc dealer today to see if they could track down a proper diagram of what should be in my door so I could confirm nothing else was missing and hopefully see how it was meant to be held together. Unsurprisingly their magical parts lookup system didn't even break a sweat looking this up for a 30 year old van.

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This however shows me something I was half expecting - that something has actually broken. That odd pin thing which runs through both the lifting arm and winder quadrant should be permanently attached. The whole lot shouldn't come apart...as such bits of it aren't available separately.

At least I now know that. In itself that's useful as I can start thinking about how to manufacture a solution rather than just being able to pick one up.

Not going to waste too much time on it though (especially as the lifter arm is still slightly bent and I'm not totally sure if that will affect operation) as the whole winder/lifter assembly is available from Mercedes for £81 including the VAT.

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Going to have a closer look at it though as I reckon it should be possible to fix it...given I've some other big bills coming up the window winder will need to wait if it needs a replacement. Anyhow it's firmly closed now and if need be can wait until the spring when I'll obviously want to be able to open the window again.

At least the dealer seemed happy to talk to me this time following on from their "no commercial vehicles" nonsense last time I was there. Not sure if something has changed since last time or if they just agreed with my opening line of "Hoping you can help me, given Intercounty are as much use as a chocolate teapot..."

Really wish I had access to their parts lookup system...
My website - aka. My *other* waste of time
Current fleet: 73 AC Model 70. 85 Sinclair C5. 85 Jaguar XJ-S V12 HE. 90 Mercedes 208D AutoTrail Navajo. 96 Citroen Xantia Activa.

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Zelandeth
Posts: 406
Joined: Fri Aug 18, 2017 9:11 pm

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

#405 Post by Zelandeth » Wed Oct 16, 2019 11:22 pm

This afternoon I was cut off in mid sentence by our beloved RCD tripping out yet again. This has become an almost daily occurrence over the last couple of weeks, so figuring out what the heck was taking it out was high on my to do list. It was nothing obvious from a quick run round the house...so it was a matter of unplugging EVERYTHING and testing everything individually with the Megger and pray that eventually I find a suspect.

Well, I wouldn't have called this one...

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Yep...an extension cord.

Roughly 0.75 Meg leakage from live to ground would do it. Bit of math suggests that would equate to 33mA of leakage. The rated trip current for the RCD is 35mA.

I expected a little bit of leakage to be apparent on these surge protected strips...but not that much! At least it's something cheaply replaceable.

Annoyingly, this strip while being a cheap thing to replace, was buried deep down the back of the bank of machines hosting my server and little distributed computing cluster...and getting to it meant hauling the whole lot out. Of course this then meant it would have been daft not to tidy things up while I was at it, given that several machines have been switched and swapped since I last had the corner in bits.

So I took the whole lot apart and rebuilt things.

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The monitor is mainly there for the benefit of the tower down on the floor as it is frequently cranky about booting and requires me to poke it to get it to start (and is to be honest probably one failure away from the scrap pile). The rest are pretty much exclusively managed over the network. The electric heater is pretty much just something to keep the laptops off the floor too...no heating is really needed in there these days - the computers do a pretty good job of that.

Just after I was finishing that up the postie arrived with a package for me.

What on Earth? An eBay seller actually packaging things properly...I might die of shock.

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This should be a nice little addition to the garage workbench.

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Only a relatively little three litre one - but an order of magnitude better than the 0.6l one I already had. Should be big enough to clean most stuff that's sensitive enough to need it, just might need to do it in a few steps. I might look to upgrade to a 15 litre one at some point a few years down the line once everything is properly set up if I find myself tinkering more with old engines, but this will be really useful in the meantime.

Have only given it a really quick test in the kitchen to prove that it actually works. It does, and is plainly massively more powerful than the old one (which in fairness is really intended for jewellery etc rather than use in the garage). Look forward to giving it a proper test run in due course.
My website - aka. My *other* waste of time
Current fleet: 73 AC Model 70. 85 Sinclair C5. 85 Jaguar XJ-S V12 HE. 90 Mercedes 208D AutoTrail Navajo. 96 Citroen Xantia Activa.

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Zelandeth
Posts: 406
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Re: Zel's Fleet Blog...Lada, Citroen, Mercedes, Sinclair & AC Model 70

#406 Post by Zelandeth » Sun Oct 20, 2019 11:46 pm

So the Lada was dragged out from under the tree yesterday. Figure if I'm trying to sell the thing, looking like this isn't really helpful...

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I'd abandoned it over there and basically forgotten about it for a couple of months after I had a member of the public who knocked on the door having seen the for sale sign turned ridiculously aggressive when I wouldn't accept his offer of £250 with the new wings fitted and painted.

It obviously isn't going to just miraculously sell itself...so time to tidy it up. It's due an MOT anyhow, so I want it to be tidy when it turns up at the garage.

After a couple of hours it had been thoroughly de-treed.

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Now clean, but the paint is as dull as a documentary about the history of the colour grey.

Yuck.

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Had to give the engine bay a going over too as the scuttle drains were unsurprisingly full of tree.

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The interior at least isn't bad...just wants a few bits of rubbish removed, a vacuum and the plastics given a wipe down.

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This afternoon I decided to continue with the tidying and attacked it with the machine polisher.

I knew from prior experience that the paint on these cars despite being cheap, actually comes up pretty well.

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Yep...takes a nice shine.

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Still needs the fiddly bits I can't get into with the power polisher around the mirrors etc doing by hand and then to be drowned in as much wax as I can make stick to it. That might be tomorrow's task if time and the weather co-operate.

Last task for the evening was a bit of IT wrangling. Our household makes quite a bit of use of a digital "vault" on which pretty much every movie, piece of music etc has been backed up on. This then can be accessed over our local network by anything anywhere in the house. However the drive involved has been getting close to full lately...and there was no easy way to add another one as the drive was simply hooked up to the USB port on our wireless access point. This also make file management rather clunky.

Recently two old HP servers were added to my network, and it made sense to me to utilise one of these, as they're up and running 24/7 anyhow running distributed computing research clients.

These are really tidy little machines...hard to believe these are from 2007. Especially being so clean.

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The lower hard drive is the one I've just added which has our media archive on...need to track down a right angled and shorter SATA cable (I've got one somewhere) as aside from being miles too long it means I can't refit the side panel at the moment.

Glad to report that despite all my previous attempts ending in abject failure, setting up the DLNA server this time worked first try.
My website - aka. My *other* waste of time
Current fleet: 73 AC Model 70. 85 Sinclair C5. 85 Jaguar XJ-S V12 HE. 90 Mercedes 208D AutoTrail Navajo. 96 Citroen Xantia Activa.

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

#407 Post by Zelandeth » Sun Oct 27, 2019 1:11 am

Interestingly the Xantia which is currently pulling to the right under acceleration, stops doing that when accelerating at full throttle...issues with play in suspension bushes are weird sometimes...

Had cause to use full beans today for the first time in a while which was when I discovered this. Had honestly forgotten how unexpectedly quickly that thing can get off the mark...that really must have been properly rapid in the mid 90s. Definitely feels quicker than the Saab 900 T16S a friend used to have...even if the Saab won out in the audio stakes with that lovely idle burble.

In other news, the van has battle scars I need to sort now. Mercifully minor.

While stationary at a set of traffic lights an idiot in an Audi Q3 drove straight into the back of me...then immediately fled the scene via hopping over the central reservation, which leads me to believe that they either didn't have insurance, a licence, were pissed or stoned...or all of the above. On the plus side, they ripped their rear bumper off doing that so...karma I guess. Got air too, so their wheel alignment is stuffed. I did report it to the police, but as the car isn't reported as stolen and I don't have video they're not interested.

Thankfully, when the previous owner rebuilt the area under the bumper, they built it mostly out of chequer plate and a frame made from the hardest, densest wood known to man...so it can withstand nuclear attack. As such aside from an additional scuff on the bumper that already needs painting the only casualty was one of my number plate lights.

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I think this may well have had a crack in it beforehand to be honest. New one is only £12 so no massive loss...just irritating.

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Though that's actually £24 as if I only change the one it will stick out like a sore thumb that they don't match...so I'll be grabbing a second one from Motorserv once it's back in stock (they only had the one on the shelf).

Will get that fitted shortly.

Also on the subject of the van I think I've tracked down where some of the water is getting in to the gas locker, and it's not all from the one seam. Some is getting into the wall somewhere in the vicinity of the kitchen window...so step one will be to remove and renew the sealant around that. Quick and easy job to do anyhow so worth doing to tick it off the list anyhow...and I'll probably work on the assumption that if one's leaking they probably all are. I've several tubes of Sikaflex in stock so may as well get them all resealed.

Next step after that is the main weatherstrip that covers the join between the side/rear of the van as that's where most is getting in I think. Nothing seems to be getting in anywhere else that I've been able to detect though, it's a lot more weatherproof than I'd expect a 30 year old van that's not been fully stripped down and restored to be.
My website - aka. My *other* waste of time
Current fleet: 73 AC Model 70. 85 Sinclair C5. 85 Jaguar XJ-S V12 HE. 90 Mercedes 208D AutoTrail Navajo. 96 Citroen Xantia Activa.

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

#408 Post by Zelandeth » Mon Oct 28, 2019 11:42 pm

Just a little house stuff today.

Finally lost patience with the stupid electronic touch dimmers in our dining room & lounge which simply do not play nicely with anything other than incandescent lamps.

So they got pulled out today and replaced with conventional switches.

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The thermostat for the heat pump fans was also hanging off the wall, so I took the opportunity to properly secure it.

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One round the corner needs further attention...for one the back box isn't fitted properly so the whole mess sits squint...also the three gang switch which handles the lights around the stairwell being of a different style is bugging my OCD, so have ordered a replacement in the same style.

Five minute job took five times longer on account of two things...Firstly isolating the supply took fifteen minutes of randomly flicking unlabelled breakers (we eventually discovered that the lights in the kitchen are on the ring main...yay...)...and secondly that whoever fitted the previous switches left about 3/4" of cable in the back box and have plastered the rest into the wall.

Should have expected as much given I know they were fitted under the orders of the interior designer who had the place before us. She has a long history of having very shiny ideas executed by the lowest bidder.

We've been in this house since 2014 and I'm still fixing things messed up while they were here...still finding them too for that matter.

In terms of car things, I've got the carb from a friend's Invacar in my care at present. It will be subject to a more or less complete teardown and thorough clean tomorrow, this should hopefully put an end to the problems she's had with the car refusing to idle.

Know quite a few folks seem to be unnerved by the idea of stripping a carb for cleaning, so I'll do my best to document things step by step here to show that it's nowhere near as scary as it might seem.

Have also picked up a second new number plate light so I've got a matched pair to go on the van rather than just one new one, as it will otherwise stick out like a sore thumb.
My website - aka. My *other* waste of time
Current fleet: 73 AC Model 70. 85 Sinclair C5. 85 Jaguar XJ-S V12 HE. 90 Mercedes 208D AutoTrail Navajo. 96 Citroen Xantia Activa.

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Zelandeth
Posts: 406
Joined: Fri Aug 18, 2017 9:11 pm

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

#409 Post by Zelandeth » Mon Nov 04, 2019 11:42 pm

Made an interesting discovery today.

Apparently the van really rather likes the new biodiesel blend that Shell are now selling.

Previously she was happiest at roughly 65mph indicated, though 70mph was usable for short bursts for overtaking. Today we did a couple of hundred miles on the motorway and she was happily bounding along at 70mph the whole way pretty much. Nothing else has changed...so don't see what else can be behind it.

Came back home with a box full of diesel fired heater to replace the (currently broken) gas one...just makes far more sense when I've got a 70 litre tank of diesel there to tap into that rather than faffing about with gas.

The gent who originally bought it quickly realised that it was overkill for their application, so bought a smaller unit. They then offered me a really good deal on their 5kW one...given that my saloon heater is currently dead it seemed like a no brainer really.

So that was what I went for. However *also* came home with this.

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Not honestly sure what to do with it...but I wasn't about to say no. If I can get it to wake up sufficiently to display the time, there we go...epic geeky clock for my workstation. Not sure if I'll be able to get that far without a driver's "card" though. Given I've a couple of connections in companies which used to run hundreds of these, I *might* be able to track down a driver's card.

Been forever since I last messed with one of these. They were everywhere during my childhood though, so for me are as much a part of bus travel as the thundering exhaust note from a Cummins L10 in First's Leyland Olympians.

Also lack the base plate...so I'll need to figure out how to get power into it via the 25-way D connector on the back.

I honestly don't need any more distractions!
My website - aka. My *other* waste of time
Current fleet: 73 AC Model 70. 85 Sinclair C5. 85 Jaguar XJ-S V12 HE. 90 Mercedes 208D AutoTrail Navajo. 96 Citroen Xantia Activa.

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Zelandeth
Posts: 406
Joined: Fri Aug 18, 2017 9:11 pm

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

#410 Post by Zelandeth » Fri Nov 08, 2019 2:47 am

Couple of days updates rolled into one here as I ran out of time to write them up on the days.

The new heater for the van started out as all the best projects do as a box of bits.

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The teeny tiny silencer for the exhaust pleases me far more than it probably should for some reason...though I do have some doubts as to its efficacy...

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While I forgot to get any photos, first thing I did of course given that this was a China special was to take it apart to make sure there wasn't any corrective work needed. Sure enough there was. The fan was fouling on its housing to the extent that it was totally jammed. I'm not entirely sure whether this was due to the fan getting shoved further onto the shaft if the thing has taken a knock in shipping...or if the nearby bracket had never been pushed fully home. Either way...two minutes, a large screwdriver to act as a lever and some brute force resolved that.

The heater in the living area of the van lives in the locker under the sofa. The old one is gas fired, but doesn't work. The fan runs, but it never fires. It's a Truma unit which seems reasonably well respected. Probably just needs a good clean and service...but to be honest an oil fired one probably makes more sense given that I've got a 70 litre tank of diesel on board. Makes it a lot easier to just turn the heat on without first having to make sure I've got gas on board, run outside to turn the reg on etc...Here's what we started with.

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Plus the little control box... seemingly positioned to take up the absolute maximum amount of space.

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The control unit was removed first. Thankfully everything just plugs into it so I didn't have to worry about anything being hard wired together.

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The only things other than the gas supply line holding the actual heater in place are four self tapping screws into the floor. Two minutes later it was out.

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This just left the little combined breather/flue assembly screwed into the floor.

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...Which was then also removed.

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Just leaving the thermostat, which is just screwed to the wall by a couple of tiny self tappers hidden behind the dial.

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With all that lot out of the way it was time to start getting ready to install the new hardware...The first real step there being to make the hole in the floor a bit bigger as the new heater has a separate intake and exhaust rather than the combined assembly on the old one.

Before getting the jigsaw out though I had a peek underneath to make sure I wasn't going to go and do something daft...you know like cut straight into the top of the fuel tank, through brake lines or anything like that.

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Nope...Plenty of room to play with. Especially as I only needed a couple of extra inches inboard. Like so.

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Scruffy job to be fair, but I'm under no illusions that I won't be revisiting this job at a later date as I want to totally rearrange things in this locker as it wastes a lot of space. Plus the wiring is just plain UGLY. I'll probably flip the heater around 180 degrees and move it towards the wall back nearer to where the mains cabling comes through the wall.

Anyhow...for now let's get the thing in and working.

I figured that it would be way easier to get the baseplate fitted and to attached the air intake and exhaust lines before taking things outside rather than in the sea of debris strewn all over the floor in the van.

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Then dropped the heater in place...glad to see my measurements were correct, leaving about 3/4" clearance around both the intake and exhaust.

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Getting the fuel line back up through the hole would have been far easier if I'd just done it from underneath the van...but it was tipping it down, so instead had a right faff of a time trying to get the blasted thing to co-operate.

Fuel pump added (it will probably wind up in a padded box in due course to the clicking doesn't drive everyone mad)...

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Intake and exhaust lines are just dangling under the van, but this won't get in the way of a test run.

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Oh...and electricity would be useful for a test too. To be honest you can't really go wrong in that regards with this system. You've got a red wire and a black wire...everything else just plugs in and the connectors are all different so you can't connect things wrong.

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I had kind of hoped to fit the new thermostat/controller in the place of the original...however that was not to be. The connector on the wiring won't fit past a batten just behind the panel it needs to run behind. So just went for a spot on the face of the locker for now.

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Went for this location so it should still be possible to reach the controls while in bed.

While it's not currently producing heat due to a lack of a fuel supply (that's one of the jobs for tomorrow), it has now been test run up to the point it complained about a lack of fuel.

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Couple of observations at this point:

1. It is waaaaaay quieter than the old unit. Mostly just the noise of the air actually being moved rather than obvious fan noise.

2. Power draw. The documentation states that the maximum running power draw is 40W. Yeeeeeaaahh...About that. This may be the case once the unit is up and running, but it pulls a hell of a lot more than 40W when the glow plug is energised during starting. Digging further through the manual reveals one tiny paragraph which mentions that the starting current may be up to 12A. This will be getting its own dedicated feed to the leisure battery as the existing wiring gets worryingly warm during startup and shutdown!

The clamp meter was brought in, showing 13A...so yeah, I think it's going to be wise to route a dedicated feed to the leisure battery. Which also gives the opportunity to add a switch...which I need as something the controller on this thing lacks is an "off" mode. The controller is by far the biggest limiting factor on these heaters...to the extent that there's an open source project created by a gentleman over in Australia called the Afterburner. This both addresses some of the drawbacks with the original controller and introduces quite a lot of additional functionality. Not least being able to properly switch the thing off! One really fun feature of that actually is the ability to control it remotely...so it's quite possible to turn the heater on from the warmth of the house and have a nice toasty van waiting for you on a horrible rainy winter morning.


This is where part 1 of this project came to a close as I ran out of time...so jumping forward now to day 2...

Things started efficiently enough, getting the new power feed directly to the leisure battery fitted. That was easy enough, though I need to empty the locker so I can neatly clip it in down one side.

The next step however involved not a small amount of faffing about and getting not one but two mouthfuls of diesel. The issue was that I couldn't get the fuel pump for the heater to prime for love nor money.

Eventually I tried with a cup of fuel propped as high up in the van as I could get it...at which point the issue became blindingly obvious.

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With a gravity feed involved, fuel was pouring out of the seam between the two halves of the casing...no wonder I couldn't get the thing to prime!

With the dodgy fuel filter taken out of the equation the fuel pump primed without further drama. Wish I'd spotted that earlier as I wouldn't still be tasting diesel at this point if I'd figured it out earlier...

With that messing around out of the way we were ready to try actually firing it up properly. Oh...after a quick check underneath to make absolutely sure that the fuel line wasn't touching the exhaust as that had been positioned blind from inside the van.

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I'll be going back in there with some reflective foil tape to line the floor around the hole to protect it as far as possible from the heat, and the hole around the fuel line will be sealed with Sikaflex (not doing the baseplate itself yet as I do want to move it at a later date). Not too worried about the lack of a grommit given it won't be able to move once it's sealed...and it's marine hose which is nigh on indestructible anyway. Plus I don't have any grommits the right size.

Can't actually tell much from inside aside from when heat starts being thrown out of it and the fan starts to ramp up...but it's quite obvious from the exhaust side when the burner fires.

https://youtu.be/8-QMKuno0ec

Apologies for the loud buzzing towards the start... annoyingly this phone doesn't silence the notification vibration when recording video...so when people start sending me email, you get interrupted. Sorry.

The smoke initially (unburned diesel actually) I think is mostly because it will have dumped quite a bit of fuel into the combustion chamber while I was trying to get the pump to prime properly. I don't think it will generally smoke quite so much on future starts.

Yes, it does sound like you're standing next to a teeny tiny jet engine...it's quite loud actually (outside, is really quiet inside the van), and I wasn't expecting much from the supplied silencer really... it's just a tiny little expansion box.

https://youtu.be/IXcmak6M4-U

Impressive...I wasn't expecting it to do *anything* much less totally cut down the obtrusive noise. Muted it down to more or less totally inconspicuous white noise.

This is where I left things yesterday...

Today (finally bringing us up to date), we had a bit of tidying up to do really...

It was still distinctly wet outside...so I decided to postpone plumbing in the heater to the vehicle fuel tank until A: It's less wet...and B: There's less fuel in it...I don't want to go and accidentally start syphoning 70 litres of diesel all over the drive.

So we've gone with a temporary fuel tank for now.

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The tube is a really snug fit in the hole I've drilled in the cap so it's not going to spill anywhere, and the can has been firmly wedged in place... it's not going anywhere.

The bracket was attached to the silencer and it was attached to the van...I need to attach a little elbow to the end so I can point it a little downwards rather than just outward as it is at the moment. There's not a particularly strong stream of gases from it at least...there will definitely be a "Warning - Hot Exhaust" label going down there though.

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I'm an idiot though and put the bolt through the bracket the wrong way...so I'll need to flip that around because it looks messy.

While I was down there I also added some heat shielding around the exhaust pipe to protect the floor around it.

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The intake hose has also been fastened in place and has had the muffler attached. I've tucked it in behind the fuel tank so it should be pretty well shielded from the elements.

Then I was able to give the heater a proper test this evening...we were showing 9C on the thermostat when I got through the door after dinner...fifteen minutes later the van was comfortably warm. I'll take that result.

Then I just needed to tidy up the mess I'd made...looked like a camper again pretty quickly.

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Irked I didn't get the thermostat straight...though it will be going back on the wall when I pick up the Afterburner kit anyhow...

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As currently there's a hole where the old stat was.

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So this does leave me with something I need to find a new home for, the old heater.

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That is a funky looking heat exchanger...

Looks like something out of a nuclear reactor...

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So that's where we are so far... probably will be leaving it here for the time being as I need to actually use the van over this next week or so, so need to leave of pulling it to bits any further!
My website - aka. My *other* waste of time
Current fleet: 73 AC Model 70. 85 Sinclair C5. 85 Jaguar XJ-S V12 HE. 90 Mercedes 208D AutoTrail Navajo. 96 Citroen Xantia Activa.

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