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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Zelandeth
Posts: 113
Joined: Fri Aug 18, 2017 9:11 pm

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

#1 Post by Zelandeth » Sat Aug 26, 2017 1:17 am

Figured it was about time I get signed up on here having been a PC reader for a good long while now, and with a bit of an eclectic little fleet here that some folks hopefully might find interesting.

So what's on the drive?

Well first and foremost this thing.
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She's a 1993 Riva 1500E - and is a car that I'd been after for longer than I've been driving. If you've seen a deep red Riva Estate in the general vicinity of Milton Keynes, it's probably been me.

Ever since I encountered the Riva 1200L saloon that my grandparents had in the late 80s, I was transfixed even as a five-ish year old. It was the estate that I really looking for though...but could never find one. In fact, it took me a long time to find a Riva at all...First ending up with a Samara 1.3S on an R plate, then a P Plate Niva 1.7i Hussar (very much missed I might add...Fantastic little car), before eventually finding an absolute dog of a 1.5E Saloon, which despite having a hole in the floor I could fit my head through somehow still had an MOT when I got it.

I reckon it's taken me roughly 13 years of active looking to eventually track down this car. Yes...I spent 13 years looking for a Lada. To be honest this only really was able to happen as when my father passed away he left a little bit of money to me. I figured that if I didn't get one of these now it was never going to happen - so after a bit of determined digging and handing over probably a little more than the car was really worth, I finally secured myself my 1500E Estate.

When collected, despite only 12K miles on the clock there were a number of issues.

[] It wouldn't idle for love nor money.
[] The steering was truly diabolically vague.
[] The accelerator pedal was essentially graduated as follows: stall - kangaroo with the occasional backfire - stall - some power maybe - stall - GO! - Stall again. Made the 350 mile drive home "interesting" - Especially when the traffic got heavy on the M6.
[] The check engine light was resolutely dead.
[] The heater did nothing.
[] The nearside front brake was clearly doing far more than any of the other three.
[] The driver's seat had a tendency of randomly un-latching the forward/backward adjustment mechanism when you went for the clutch (I later found the offending missing spring under the carpet - I temporarily fixed it for the journey home once I discovered the problem by cable-tying the adjuster lever to the seat frame). Suffice to say, the first time that this happened, leaving me suddenly hanging onto the steering wheel for dear life, halfway around a busy roundabout in Edinburgh in rush hour was slightly terrifying. Especially when taken in conjunction with the above issues!

The main running issues were unsurprisingly down to Billy The Bodger having been mucking around with the emission control system. These cars were the only ones other than BMC that I'm aware of who decided that computer control of a carb was a smart idea...and it's a system that *just about* works provided that everything's in A1 condition. However it's a system that if you don't know your way around can wind to all manner of problems when people start fiddling with things.

...Or have decided to hack the idle solenoid straight up to 12V. What the? Hmm...Unsurprisingly the check engine light was dead because someone had taken the bulb out. Once that was replaced...it wouldn't go out. Not surprisingly. Once I reconnected the idle solenoid to its proper line however, the check engine light started behaving - and the car would suddenly idle. It wouldn't idle especially *well* but it would idle. Likewise the accelerator pedal started to behave better. The carb still obviously wasn't happy, and the running mixture was all over the place, and it tended to flood itself when starting. A thorough clean helped things a lot, though it still tended to hunt between rich and lean at idle (which made getting through the emission test fun!). I reckon the lambda sensor may well have suffered somewhat from it having been running significantly rich for a while when the idle circuit was effectively running at 100% flow all the time. While the car wasn't running especially well...it was actually drivable then!

I however in my early days with the car developed an idea. This electronic carb is a touchy beast at best, and doesn't give the smoothest of power delivery even when working well, tending to give a bit of a jerky throttle response especially in slow traffic or parking. I remembered something though from my Niva...The injection system on that was essentially "bolted on" to the car, with the whole system having been bought in off the shelf from GM (which I always found somewhat ironic). This got me thinking...Was there any reason that the system couldn't be applied to the engine in the Riva?

A bit of digging tended to suggest no. In fact, in the Scandinavian market, the Riva was actually sold with the identical 1.7i power unit that we got in the Niva here...The injection kit was never fitted to the 1.5 Riva engine though as far as I'm aware (there *was* a 1.5i Samara - but that uses a completely different power unit). I pretty quickly came up with a list of potential issues...

[] Fuel map. Would I need to look at getting the ECU remapped for the slightly smaller capacity engine? I figured that this probably wouldn't be a massive problem given the origins of the system.
[] Fuel pump. The Niva 1.7i has a different style fuel tank sender/pickup to the Riva meaning I can't just bolt it straight on. Most likely solution being to extract the Niva tank innards and graft them onto the tank "bung" from the Riva.
[] Vehicle speed sensor. This attaches to the transfer box in the Niva, which obviously isn't there on the Riva. This isn't actually critical for the system to work quite happily though - its absence will trigger a check engine light (code 24) if you coast for any length of time in gear though. The wiring to this sensor was shredded on my Niva...and never got fixed in the three years I had it.
[] Finding the bits to start with...Quite a few bits of the Niva Monopoint system are now obsolete and no longer available directly from Lada or GM.

Well...That was about it really! The rest I just figured out as I went along...

Finding parts was clearly going to be far easier if I could find a donor vehicle - given that rust is generally the biggest killer of Nivas (or any Ladas for that matter), I didn't expect finding a rotten one to donate its fuel system would prove particularly difficult - and sure enough it took me about 24 hours. Someone only an hour or so away was breaking one, so it was a pretty simple matter to grab the system more or less in its entirety from there.

This had a couple of exceptions:

[] The lambda sensor wouldn't budge.
[] Crankshaft position sensor had already been swiped by someone else.
[] Vehicle speed sensor - as mentioned earlier, wasn't sure how it would be implemented, it was raining, and I didn't want to crawl around in the mud getting it.

What I *did* grab...

[] Air Cleaner Assembly.
[] Air Intake Temperature Sensor.
[] Throttle Body & Fuel Injector Assembly.
[] Intake Manifold.
[] Top Coolant Elbow (incorporating Coolant Temperature Sensor).
[] MAP Sensor.
[] Charcoal Canister.
[] Fuel Pump.
[] Various HP Fuel Lines.
[] ECU.
[] EFi Fuse & Relay Block.
[] Complete EFi System Wiring Loom.
[] Ignition Coil Pack & Bracket.
[] Distributor Blanking Plug.
[] Mechanical Fuel Pump Blanking Plug.

I was also somewhat apprehensive when I discovered that the fuel lines were already disconnected from the fuel pump, as this suggested prior issues with the fuel system. Sure enough, closer inspection when I got it all home showed the pump to be seized. Still trying to track down another one, though I had a backup plan to get things going in the meantime.

I also later discovered that there were a few other components that I should have grabbed from the donor vehicle...

[] Crankshaft Pulley. This has notches in it on the EFi cars that the system uses to determine the engine position. NOTE: The monopoint/TBi crankshaft pulley is NOT the same as the one used on the later multipoint injection cars.
[] Timing Chain Cover. This has a boss cast into it on the EFi cars that the CPS plugs into.
[] Rocker Cover. Has a bracket attached for the air cleaner that's not present on the carb cars.

Tom at Lada Parts UK was able to track me down a good used crankshaft pulley, a new CPS and timing chain cover in double-quick time. The rocker cover however proved more problematic and I'm still after one. That's a minor detail though and isn't critical. Lada no longer showed the Lambda sensor as available, but it was a trivial matter to track a new Bosch item down on eBay. I'll add the part number later for anyone else's reference.

With all the bits now in front of me, I was able to start actually thinking about what was involved. Mostly it was pretty self-explanatory really! Remove part "x" and replace with part "y" for the most part. As it was, I procrastinated over it for quite a while until I ended up having to strip quite a bit of stuff out of the engine bay when my alternator packed in due to a broken brush (replacement sourced from Tom at Lada again for about £2.50 if I remember right!). While I was in there I took the opportunity to replace the remainder of the original hose clips (horrible, evil, nasty, unspeakable things!) on the cooling system as the majority of them were still there - and without exception, every single one of them was leaking. Was also a good opportunity to investigate the non-heating heater.

Once I actually got stuck in, unsurprisingly I did encounter a few things which required a bit of thought - but really no actual headaches.

[] The Riva crankshaft does not have a keyway like the Niva one - so you've got to be careful to make sure that the pulley doesn't rotate on the shaft when you're tightening it up. Likewise it means that you need to manually align it at cylinder 1 TDC rather than just being able to slot the pulley on.
[] The crankshaft position sensor wants to occupy the same physical space as part of the cooling fan shroud - so I had to cut one of the fan support legs off to ensure that the sensor didn't hit it. Still need to bolt on a replacement strengthening bar...
[] Not a problem as I was already aware of it - but worthy of note. The carb setup has the ECU providing a +12V feed to the check engine light on the dash, with it sharing the main ground there. Whereas the ECU on the injection setup expects the lamp to be fed from the dash +Ve supply, and switches the ground connection. So a small amount of wiring modification is necessary there.
[] The EFi Wiring loom is quite a bit thicker than the one for the carb setup - It will still fit through the hole in the bulkhead though - but it's big rubber bung won't. You'll need to either shave the bung down or enlarge the hole.
[] Throttle pedal. The biggest engineering challenge I've had to solve so far. The Riva uses a frankly bizarre system of linkages, pushrods, pivots and ball joints to translate motion from your foot to the carb. Think there were nine changes in direction I counted from one end of the system to the other...Whereas the Niva uses a simple cable. You can't just retain the Riva setup as A: The throttle lever is in a totally different place, and B: Several of the anchor points for the pivots are no longer available as they disappeared with the carb and old inlet manifold. However you can't simply use the Niva's pedal either...Firstly because the two studs it bolts onto in the Niva aren't there (okay, that's relatively trivial to resolve with a couple of bolts and a drill), but mostly because the Niva's footwell is a different shape...so the offside front wheel well is in the way of where the pedal wants to be.

I've currently got a bodge using half the original linkage cable-tied to the new throttle cable which then actuates the throttle itself. The is strictly intended to be temporary and gives quite a notchy throttle response...but it's worked for testing purposes! The final solution will be to modify the Niva pedal I reckon and add the bolts needed to secure it. I haven't decided whether the best solution will be to bend the existing Niva pedal or to cut it off entirely and weld it back on in the new location. Tend to think the latter may make more sense as it's a pretty strong bit of metal.

Fuel pump wise, I decided to just test things out with another injection pump I had laying around from earlier fiddling around with another car. The throttle body has the fuel pressure regulator built in, and the whole system only operates at around 30psi, rather than the rather more terrifying pressures that a lot of systems seem to run at. Connecting my pump up (initially outside just to see what it would do) and measuring the pressure showed that the pressure regulator was quite happier with the (on paper) slightly more powerful pump, the system pressure sitting right smack in the middle of the acceptable range and the pump sounding perfectly happy. This was good, as it meant that I could go ahead without having to wait to track down a good Niva (or Scandinavian Riva) pump - though that's still on my list as it'll be a far more elegant solution. My current setup is a bit of a bodge.

I'd also tested that the ECU would respond to the input from the CPS and would fire to coil pack. A quick note on this...Do NOT EVER run the ignition system on this thing without HT leads and plugs attached. I initially made this mistake - then yelped like a puppy who'd just had his tail shut in the door as a spark jumped from the coil pack a good few inches straight to my left knee with an almighty crack. I do *not* want to do the math to figure out what the open circuit HT voltage shot up to there...but I'm sure it can't be good for the coil packs. Anyhow...Definitely proved I had a *really* good spark...

As far as modifying the vehicle wiring is concerned - the EFi loom has a total of five connections to the vehicle loom. Battery +, ground (attaches to the engine via the distributor blanking plate retaining nut), a switched 12V feed "power on" feed, the check engine light connection, and a 0-5V feed that on the Niva drives the rev counter. Other than that, it is completely self-contained. I had to terminate two or three (can't remember without consulting my notes!) wires in the engine bay that were formerly associated with the ignition system, but the rest of it just pulls out along with the old emission control system wiring loom. So there's very little actually hackery involved, and it would be entirely possible to return this to stock if I so wished.

For testing purposes I borrowed the 12V switched feed from the heated rear window switch relay coil feed - as that gave me a quick and easy thing I could kill the system with in the event of an emergency while testing, that would be easy to find while flailing in panic.

While I had done some tests of the basic hardware off the car beforehand, I wasn't entirely sure what to expect when I first tried it. I didn't know what state the injector was in, I didn't know whether the TPS was any good, I didn't know whether my timing setting was correct, the ECU was a complete unknown and I still didn't know whether the smaller engine was going to be an issue map wise. I was rapidly running out of daylight, and still didn't have the lambda sensor or air intake temperature sensors connected, and had some horribly jury-rigged fuel connections but wanted to see if it would run. I (somewhat gingerly) turned the key, half expecting either nothing or horrendous backfires - but instead the thing almost instantly "whooshed" into life, and immediately settled into the smoothest idle I'd ever heard from the car by a long shot.

The following day saw me tidy the fuel supply arrangements up a bit so they were slightly less likely to fail spectacularly, figure out a bit of wiring hackery to temporarily connect up the existing lambda sensor (3-wire rather than 4) as I couldn't get the old one out with the tools I had to hand. The spanner I had was too fat to fit between the exhaust and the steering box. However I'd ascertained that it should work just fine with the existing sensor as the ground connection (which is floating on the new 4-wire sensor, but is via the vehicle chassis on the old one) is just tied to vehicle ground at the ECU end.

With everything actually connected up now I was able to let the engine properly run up to temperature and confirm that everything was still good. It was...The only gremlin I'd found so far was that the ECU output for my check engine light appeared to be dead. This still remains the case...so I'm keeping my eyes open for another ECU as I'd really rather like to have that working (aside from the obvious fact that I need it sorted come December for the MOT!). Idle was maybe a little on the high side - though listening to some of the old recordings I have of my Niva, it's actually pretty much exactly the same...so maybe that's just how they behave.

The one thing I hadn't connected at that point was the throttle pedal...as this was the point at which I realised that it wasn't going to be as simple as just adding a couple of new bolts for the pedal. I swore a lot at this point as I'd only a couple of hours before spent quite a bit of time removing the entirety of the Riva throttle linkage - which I am absolutely convinced was installed at the factory well before any of the hydraulics for the clutch or brakes, the inlet nor exhaust manifolds. Extracting the linkage was an exercise in skinned knuckles and moderate frustration leading me to wish that I could temporarily suspend a couple of laws of trigenometry. I pretty quickly realised that putting the original pedal back in and part of the linkage back in place then coming up with a bodge to connect the two (cable ties!) was the only quick solution I was going to find. Putting the linkage back in place was even more frustrating than taking it out.

Still, I got it in there eventually and came up with a working (though highly shonky) joint between the old throttle linkage and the new cable. While the throttle action was a bit notchy it would do just fine for test purposes. At least it would mean that I could take the car for a test drive and see if my work had actually paid off or if it had all been a massive waste of time.

The answer was that it had definitely paid off. The power delivery was far more linear and definitely featured a bootload more torque at the bottom end. It was also for the first time since I got the car possible to travel on a very light throttle opening without the car missing, backfiring and generally carrying on - which it used to take great pleasure in doing when trying to drive at 30mph. Stamping on the throttle resulted in the car simply getting on with business and accelerating rather than the brief "intake of breath" that I'd been utterly unable to eliminate before.

The one thing I really did notice though was that the induction roar was almost comically loud on wide throttle openings - it honestly sounded like someone had stuck a huge Webber and a freeflow air filter on the thing. Unfortunately this also brought with it a horrible resonant boominess anywhere north of about 3000rpm. Refitting the air intake warm air mixer and air intake tube did help tame it a bit and mostly did away with the resonance issues, but it still has quite a noticeable bark to it when you put your foot down.

Around town aside from the far more linear and less "twitchy" power delivery making the car far *easier* to drive - which I reckoned made the work worth it in itself - it was tricky to really tell whether I'd be seeing any real world power gains. My original aim honestly had been to improve the general driveability of the car rather than to add power, but I wasn't going to complain if that came as a by-product. I figured the open road was probably the easiest place to find out on that though, so headed for the A5 to do a quick test. Yep...Definitely got more power on tap! Maintaining 70mph requires about the same amount of throttle now that 40-50 did before, and overtaking is something that can actually be considered less than five miles in advance. Before it always felt that the car could *do* 70mph, but it wasn't really happy about it. Following the injection conversion, it now felt quite happy to do 70, and has "more in the tank" it feels like. Honestly feels like there's enough power there now that it could handle another gear or an overdrive to bring the mechanical noise down a bit when cruising! That would rather be missing the point of the car though, wouldn't it?

I'd be really curious to have a shot of a 1.5E Riva with the electronic carb in actually proper working order (I've never managed to achieve this I reckon with either of mine, nor the example on the Samara 1.3S I had) to compare how they behave.

Stuff that's still on my to-do list:

[] Source Riva Injection fuel pump, or a good working Niva injection fuel pump I can graft onto the existing tank top plate.
[] Tidy up the fuel pipework (can't do that until the above is sorted as it will change where the pipework needs to run as currently I'm using an in-line pump).
[] Source Scandinavian (or Canadian) Riva vehicle speed sensor pickup (it slots in between the speedo drive from the gearbox and the speedo cable), wish me luck finding one of those...
[] Properly sort the thottle linkage and remove the cable-tie bodge.
[] Source Monopoint Niva rocker cover so I don't have an air filter bracket dangling in the breeze.
[] Track down a "fuel injection" or "fuel injected" badge that's in a suitable typeface and won't look out of place on the bootlid.
[] Once the to do list is done and everything's done to my satisfaction I do fully intend to write up a more detailed step-by-step how-to for this.

Then not related to the injection kit...

[] Get the two new wings that are in the garage fitted and painted (currently arranging a quote for that from a local garage).
[] Sort out the maddening (intermittent) interaction between the dash lighting and the indicator flasher unit. It's not a simple grounding fault, and my money is currently on damage to the wiring around the steering column from when it got broken into and nicked a couple of years before I bought it.
[] Get a replacement windscreen fitted after a cement mixer dropped a chunk the size of my fist on the A34 a couple of months ago and took a huge chunk out right in the middle of my field of view. It's starting to fog towards the nearside lower corner anyway, so was going to want changing at some point.
[] Get replica number plates made up. Front one is a no-name parts house replacement, and the rear is the original dealer plate but is sadly starting to de-laminate.
[] Get the wheels cleaned up and powder coated. They're staying the stock white colour. Just a couple of them have a bit of rust, and I reckon a high gloss finish will make it slightly easier to keep the brake dust off.
[] Source and fit the earlier black slatted radiator grill...I really am not a fan of the later body colour one fitted to the later (1992 onward I think) cars in the UK.
[] Get a cat back stainless exhaust system made up. I've already had to bodge it once as it's falling apart, and as I'm planning to keep this car it just makes sense from a "fit and forget" perspective. I've also been struggling to source the proper rear silencer for the estate (the tailpipe is slightly different to the saloon), so this seems one way to get one that looks like it should. An OCD detail that nobody but a Riva owner is ever going to notice, but it bugs me!
[] Um...That's actually about it. Beyond that it's drive, enjoy, look after and take it to shows.


Next up on the drive is this...
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1987 Skoda Estelle II 120LX 21st Anniversary Special Edition.

The special edition was celebrating 21 years of Skoda officially importing to the UK. It got you some graphics on the car, a certificate, a set of crystal wine glasses, and I believe the radio/cassette was thrown in for free.

This is my third rear engined Skoda. The first being an equally violently orange E plate 130GL. That was an immaculate car save for needing a good polish and the vinyl roof re-covering. Well, it was until the driver of a diesel tanker decided to drive in front of me across a main road and I ploughed into the side of his cab at about 50mph anyway. Suffice to say that made rather a mess of the poor thing, and that was the end of E44KHT. Real crying shame as there wasn't a spec of rust anywhere on that car and *unlike* every one I've had since, she ran beautifully. Only problem I had was the usual disintegrating clutch release bearing...but anyone who knows these cars knows that bearing is made of cheese anyway. Changed the clutch roughly two weeks before it got written off...D'oh!

The second one was a 135 Rapid (yep, 135 not 136. It's essentially a 136 but with a lowered compression ratio, single point injection and a cat, originally intended for Canada apparently before they changed the emission regs there) which was a problem child. I had it for two or three years and think it spent about four months of that time actually on the road. I had a plethora of niggling problems with it from day one, but eventually lost patience with it when the gear linkage snapped one evening. It then sat for about six months until the brakes started to play up and it turned out there was more rust than I'd originally realised hiding under some filler. I sold it on (back to the original seller actually I believe!) at that point. No idea whether it ever ended up back on the road. Can safely say that injection system is one I never want to see ever again.

This one was found courtesy of a friend sending me one of his infamous "have you seen this on eBay?" Emails. I hate these, as they almost invariably end up with me buying yet another car. Sure enough, it did. I paid far too much really for it, but it had the advantage of being relatively local rather than at the far end of the country where most Skodas tended to turn up (I was staying in Aberdeen at the time). Sadly this car has previously spent a lot of its life sitting around in a shed somewhere rather than being used...and it hadn't really been properly recommissioned. They'd done the bare minimum to sort the brakes (which work fantastically well I might add, despite apparently still having the original discs and pads) and to get it an MOT. This meant that I have had no end of issues with perished hoses, bushes and myriad electrical gremlins. It also meant that the head gasket had been cooked because the coolant expansion cap wasn't holding pressure which meant it had a really odd intermittent overheating problem that took me a while to track down. I thought I'd got to the bottom of this, but it's still playing up at the moment.

My current plan for this car is to sort the overheating (again), then get it a year's MOT. At that point it will be going up for sale, as frankly I've lost patience with it...Especially now I've got the Lada which ticks many of the same boxes for the fleet, yet is rather more practical. Also easier to get parts for.

The 120LX is a bit of an oddball model. For all intents if you looked at it you'd assume it was a 130. You've got the rev counter on the dash, the four pot calipers and the semi-trailing arm rear suspension...but it's only got the 1.2 litre engine rather than the 1.3. There are quite a few people who have theorised that the model only existed by accident! Afraid I've no interesting anecdotes to add on that count.

Prior to getting the Lada, this was definitely the car I've owned that got the most attention on the road (I reckon being almost neon orange probably helps!). I never failed to enjoy the smiles that it seemed to put on people's faces and very much hope that it will do so in future for the next owner.


Currently parked up in the corner we also have this old girl.
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She's a 1989 Saab 900i Automatic. One of the very last 8v cars, and a bit of an oddball being an auto. The slushbox seems to take a lot of flak from Saab owners, but I've never found any issue with it - in an 8 valve injected car that is. Drove a 16v example once and it just didn't work...the torque curve of the engine just didn't match the behaviour of the box at all. The 8v on the other hand works very nicely with the gearing, and especially in the mid range feels more than adequately quick to keep up with (and on occasion surprise) modern traffic. The only thing I really do wish though was that it had another gear for motorway cruising! It's a bit loud...especially given that 70mph seems to be exactly at the point that the exhaust picks to resonate at!

Sadly she's currently off the road following the head gasket letting go quite spectacularly. It's been weeping externally at the back of the head and very occasionally starting off a cylinder ever since I got the car...so I was aware that this was always on the menu. However the other day I noticed turning into our neighbourhood that I'd lost a cylinder. When I pulled into the driveway however, the cloud of steam and smoke from the exhaust then caught up with me and the scale of the problem became apparent!

I checked the oil and water that day (and the following morning) and they were fine, there was maybe the slightest suggestion of a smear of white on the dipstick, but no more than you'd expect from a car that's not had a decent run in a while. However after shuffling the car around just to get closer to the garage, I decided the following morning to drain the coolant and change the oil just in case as I knew I wouldn't be able to get to it for a bit and really didn't like the idea of leaving any potential moisture in the crankcase. Good thing I did, as I drained about three litres of coolant out of the sump before I found any oil! That had drained down quite spectacularly overnight then...Suffice to say, that got flushed out, refilled, run for a couple of minutes, drained and flushed again before being refilled with fresh oil (a random assortment of half finished bottles I've had laying around forever). So hopefully the bottom end hasn't suffered. The engine's definitely never been overheated or anything like that while I've had the car - though of course I can't speak for its life prior to me owning it. I'm hoping to pull the head at some point shortly (probably once the Skoda's sold) and take a look at what's what. I imagine given the magnitude of the issues that the point of failure will be pretty obvious!

I think it's time that I was looking for a new home for her too really. I'm just acutely aware that the bodywork is starting to need sorting in a few places, and I just don't have the time or resources to do that as well as it deserves. Plus the list of minor niggles just isn't getting any smaller and I think the car just deserves better. She's one of the nicest classic 900s I've ever driven and it will break my heart to sell her (not least as the last car my mother ever travelled in prior to her sudden and unexpected passing away due to lung cancer), but time moves on and I think it's got to the point that I need to.


When I actually get around to thinning the fleet out will remain to be seen...I'm rarely quick about such things! However once that's done I've got a slightly crazy plan to add a completely *impractical* classic to the driveway. Well...not actually to the driveway, but to an area to one side of the driveway. The sort of classic that's 50-ish feet long, 8 feet wide and weighs in somewhere around 10 tonnes, and where an 8.2 litre six cylinder engine is considered "a little on the small side." It's an utterly mad, stupid, idiotic and poorly conceived idea, but it's got into my head anyway and is going to refuse to go away until I've seen in person what a hazard to my health, sanity (and financial solvency) that it really is.

Sorry that turned into quite such a lengthy ramble! Though I should warn you that rambling aimlessly is one of the things I do best.

EDIT: Updated post to include photos...probably makes a bit more sense now given that I was referring to them...
Last edited by Zelandeth on Wed Aug 22, 2018 7:44 pm, edited 3 times in total.

User avatar
JPB
Posts: 9747
Joined: Fri Jan 07, 2011 3:24 pm

Re: Zel's Fleet Blog...Lada, Saab, Skoda, Sinclair...and a Pug 107.

#2 Post by JPB » Sat Aug 26, 2017 12:22 pm

Lengthy? Nah, you should see some of my posts! :lol:

I love the idea that you're taking the time and trouble to sort a Lada Riva and make it as good as it ought to have been from new, my only Ladas were both of earlier styles; a blue 1985 1500 Kombi - last year of the estate and as such, last of the older, completely 124 derived shells for the UK market. That one had an elusive brake problem involving air getting into the system around a week after whatever I'd previously done to fix it! The entire brake system was gone through, all pipes renewed in case a poor flare had been allowing air in, but at no time was a fluid leak visible, even under pressure, so when the timing chain tensioner failed in spectacular fashion, that car was sold at a profit to a bloke who made his living sending Ladas back to Russia.
The other one I had was a 1600 saloon, with all of the toys and very tasty purple dralon-style seats. I ran that for a few weeks while my Austin A60 - main car at the time - was off the road for its upgrade work. The 1600 was as reliable as the (six years newer) Kombi had been the opposite and needless to say, that one was eventually also sold on to the exporter and he was able to give me more for that than both the car and the MGB-sourced upgrade parts for the A60 owed me so yes, I was into Ladas too for a while, though I'd have to say that my 1986 FSO 125P had the Ladas beaten in terms of how well it drove. Cars I wish I still owned numbers 1,2,3 and 4 right there! :|
I like the Skoda too, I always thought that these, especially the ones with the "proper" IRS rather than the swing axles, drove every bit as entertainingly as a good Imp, sadly nobody ever agreed. :(
And the Saab, well that's just lovely. I can't help wondering though; if the auto feels too low geared at motorway speeds could someone, at some time in its past, have fitted a diff from a manual one in there? Some folk can't get their head round the principle of torque converter advantage, so it's not unheard of for such folk to assume - incorrectly - that lower overall gearing will make the car quicker! I like these Saabs a lot, especially automatic ones which are hugely underrated, IMHO.

Thanks for taking the time to sign up and post here, and for sharing the pictures of your collection. Can't wait to learn more about the long,wide vehicle. Is it some form of bus by any chance? We love a bus around these parts.
:)
John, Operating knackered old sheds as daily transport since 1981. :|

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Zelandeth
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Re: Zel's Fleet Blog...Lada, Saab, Skoda, Sinclair...and a Pug 107.

#3 Post by Zelandeth » Sat Aug 26, 2017 9:37 pm

The timing chain tensioners do seem to be a weakness. It's not unheard of for them to totally disintegrate and the chain to then proceed to chew its way through the head. Must make the most horrendous racket while that's going on so goodness only knows how drivers claimed to be unaware that anything was wrong!

Did a little bit of cleaning today as I'm hoping to head over to the show in Brill tomorrow. No huge difference externally aside from looking a bit deeper in colour for the polish. Interior cleaned up nicely though.
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Anyone who might be over there tomorrow, please feel free to come and say hi. I don't bite.

As for the potential new acquisition, yes it's a bus (well...coach). I've had a major soft spot for them for a long number of years, and have been lucky enough through my former employment to have spent quite a good number of hours behind the wheel of them both old and new. I know in the Lotto win garage there'd have to be a late 80s Leyland Olympian with the Cummins L10 engine (C'mon, how can't you like that earth shaking exhaust note) as I grew up with those being the rare, exciting things I only got to see on the one or two times a year we ventured into the big city of Aberdeen when I was growing up.

However the vehicle which really kicked off the interest for me was the clapped out but strangely endearing (to me) coach that formed part of my trip to secondary school. That was a Duple Dominant II body (sadly missing most of its brightwork by the time I knew it) on a Bedford Y series chassis (STA 380R for anyone who likes looking up the history of these vehicles and such). As such, I've made the decision that this is something that I want to own. I know a Volvo (whether it's a late B58 or early B10M) or a Leyland Leopard/Tiger are technically superior vehicles - but the old Bedford is the one which managed to capture my heart. I've driven a couple as well and the character suits my driving style very well too. Being a somewhat lighter chassis actually probably works to my advantage in some ways too in that it's a little less complicated. No semi-auto gearboxes like on many a Leyland of the era for one...

It's got to be a mid to late 70s example I reckon. Ideally a Duple Dominant II, though I'd certainly consider a Plaxton Supreme from the same era if everything else was perfect about it...Nothing else though like the Van-Hool Alizee, Plaxton Paramount or Caetano Alphas need apply...if it's not dripping with chrome outside and have a dash that's covered in wood panelling you can see yourself in, I'm not interested. The Dominant is the preferred model though, both because it's the one that started the interest and because I just love the look of them so much. Especially in a darker colour to offset all the brightwork. Plus they're a bit more of a left field choice...it feels like you see far more Supremes than you do Dominants out there (which is probably because they weren't half as bad for dissolving around the step and rear framework!).

Certainly no rush for it...it's a plan that's probably a year or three down the line yet, but I'm just starting to investigate it in more detail and put the feelers out there to see what's about. These aren't the sort of thing you just pull up eBay and click "buy it now" to grab!

...Even if I nearly did accidentally do just that when looking at that Volvo B10M Berkhof Esprit that was on there a couple of weeks ago. I was aiming for "watch item" but wasn't paying attention. Suffice to say there was a mad flail for the cancel button on the confirmation page.

I guess I'm quite lucky in that I've actually got sufficient space (admittedly though it will involve knocking down a bit of fence, hedge and the removal of That Tree (TM) - which I won't shed any tears over) to park something like this at home with relative ease - and hopefully without starting an outright war with my neighbours (ground level on the garden on that side being a good couple of feet higher than ours helps there too). That obviously saves me quite a few quid a year on having to rent space from a local bus operator or museum.

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Re: Zel's Fleet Blog...Lada, Saab, Skoda, Sinclair...and a Pug 107.

#4 Post by Zelandeth » Sat Sep 09, 2017 9:24 pm

Only a quick update as I've been a bit under the weather the last couple of weeks so haven't really had much chance to do too much with the cars.

Main achievements were getting over to the car show at the Brill Festival a couple of weekends ago. Was really surprised by the scale of the show there given the original description I found suggested it was more of an incidental show that happened to be attached to a village fair or something...

Couple of photos of the Lada there...
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Sorry they're not great photos. I had a huge headache getting the lighting right on any shots during the day there - I think it's because the sky was so clear and the show ground so open that it meant that it was all blinding sunlight or deep shadow and nothing in between.

In other news, I *finally* - after about a month - managed to get the insurance cancelled from the two that are currently off the road. What a faff that turned out to be...Who would have thought that in 2017 you'd have to write to your insurer to say "I've taken this car off the road so I don't need it on cover any more." Has always only taken me a phone call and admin fee before!

Main tasks for this week - assuming the weather and my health co-operate anyway - are going to be to tidy up the fuel system a bit before I can bring myself to put it into the bodyshop so they can assess the car to see if there's anything else it would make sense to get done along with the wings. Currently the pump is cable-tied in place and it seriously bugs my sense of OCD (even though it's definitely not going anywhere!). The intention there had been simply to prove that the thing worked before devoting time to details like brackets - and I'd hoped to have tracked down a working in-tank pump by now. However that's not happened, so time to make a proper bracket for this one and to fasten the wiring to it properly in place. Already got a plan for that, so shouldn't take too long to do. Reckon it will be much more to the satisfaction of Mr. MOT Tester in a couple of months too rather than my current cable-tie abomination. Just really annoying that the pump is fractionally wider in diameter than the old ignition coil or I could have used the (obviously now redundant) bracket from that.

Task two is to continue my battle to figure out what the heck is going on with the interaction between the dash lighting circuit and the indicator flasher unit. This has been an ongoing battle since the day I got the car and so far - despite my background being in electronic and electrical engineering - I've got no closer to figuring out what it's playing at. Knowing my luck, it's an earthing fault on a seemingly completely unrelated system somewhere at the far end of the car.

I also went out and gave the Skoda a chance to run and warm itself through for a while at the same time grabbing a good old bunch of photos with a view to offering it for sale shortly. Really am going to miss that when I sell it, just know that I need to downsize for now...too many cars and as such I'm not able to give any of them the time they really deserve...and insuring four cars is killing me!

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Re: Zel's Fleet Blog...Lada, Saab, Skoda, Sinclair...and a Pug 107.

#5 Post by Zelandeth » Wed Sep 20, 2017 6:24 pm

Quick update!

Somewhat to my surprise, Tom over at lada.co.uk has ascertained that the fuel tank, pump and fuel line set for the fuel injected version of the Riva are in fact available still. So my original fabrication plans have been put on hold, as buying the whole lot in ready made is going to be far more professional looking than I can ever manage...plus it should essentially be a "fit and forget" job, so a bonus there. Will be a few about £350 worth of parts though!

Also ordering:

Full set of front suspension ball joints. One is creaking, just going to get them all in stock and throw it at my garage with the instruction to give me a car back that no longer creaks.

Middle and rear exhaust sections - apparently the system with the correct offset tailpipe has become available again.

Layshaft flexible coupling (or donut as it's usually called) as mine is badly perished.

Set of engine and gearbox mounts. Given the tendency for clutch judder and just the age, pretty sure mine are shot.

Reversing light switch.

...and I think that's everything.

I also sorted the clutch pedal this evening. I'd assumed I was missing a return spring ever since I got the car as you always had to lift the pedal the last inch or so to the stop with your foot. However it actually turned out that the grease on the mechanism had just turned to glue over time...cleaning it up and lubricating it properly restored normal operation - and has made the clutch slightly lighter.

Speaking of clutches...just returned the fourth incorrect slave cylinder from various online suppliers for the Estelle. First one that was actually for the right car...but was actually a master cylinder. D'oh! Anyone got one rattling around in the parts box?

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Re: Zel's Fleet Blog...Lada, Saab, Skoda, Sinclair...and a Pug 107.

#6 Post by Zelandeth » Sun Oct 08, 2017 11:58 pm

Skoda is now officially for sale... I'll add its own separate thread with a plethora of photos in the for sale section tomorrow time permitting.

It'll be getting sold with a fresh year's ticket and fixed clutch all being well unless someone makes me an offer I can't refuse in its current state...

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Re: Zel's Fleet Blog...Lada, Saab, Skoda, Sinclair...and a Pug 107.

#7 Post by Zelandeth » Tue Oct 31, 2017 5:38 pm

Well I never really got as far as fully advertising the Skoda as a friend turned up who wants it. So as soon as the events of this weekend are out the way I'll be looking at getting a fresh test on it.

This will make space however for the latest arrival. An unexpected one, but one I sure wasn't going to turn down, another Xantia. No 1.9TD this time though, but a late S1 2.0T Activa.

...yes, I do know what I'm letting myself in for - and if I didn't have one of the experts in the ins and outs of them a couple of miles away I'd not even consider it!

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Re: Zel's Fleet Blog...Lada, Saab, Skoda, Sinclair...and a Pug 107.

#8 Post by 3xpendable » Fri Nov 03, 2017 4:05 pm

Loved reading this! Thanks for posting! I remember a customer of my dads loved the Lada Riva's and always had a fairly new one when I was a kid. I think the last one he had was an L reg red one actually. My best friends' parents at school had a Niva too, amazing pulling power!

I'm currently classic-less so very much enjoy reading these threads.
Currently classic-less.

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Zelandeth
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Re: Zel's Fleet Blog...Lada, Saab, Skoda, Sinclair...and a Pug 107.

#9 Post by Zelandeth » Sat Nov 04, 2017 9:46 am

3xpendable wrote:
Fri Nov 03, 2017 4:05 pm
Loved reading this! Thanks for posting! I remember a customer of my dads loved the Lada Riva's and always had a fairly new one when I was a kid. I think the last one he had was an L reg red one actually. My best friends' parents at school had a Niva too, amazing pulling power!

I'm currently classic-less so very much enjoy reading these threads.
Thanks! Means I'm doing something right. One of the things that I enjoy most about driving the Lada and Skoda is how happy they seem to make people when seen.

Really miss my Niva. It's one of the four cars I most regret selling (81 MiniMetro HLE, 96 Lada Niva 1.7i Hussar, 88 Renault 25 2.2i Monaco and 93 Suzuki Cappuccino). Was a fantastic little beast that shrugged off all driving conditions with ease and would go anywhere. Near unstoppable in the snow too - much to the embarrassment to a couple of local Land Rover owners who were utterly shown up when I rescued them in it.

Hopefully be quite a bit more activity here over the next couple of weeks when the Skoda is readied for an MOT and then when the new acquisition is brought home and I get to grips with it. Will definitely be both the most complex car I've ever owned and also by far the best specified in terms of equipment by a country mile.

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Re: Zel's Fleet Blog...Lada, Saab, Citroen, Sinclair...and a Pug 107.

#10 Post by Zelandeth » Fri Nov 17, 2017 10:39 pm

Quick update!

Skoda went in for her MOT on Thursday. Needs two small patches of welding on the inner offside sill, but otherwise went through fine - and celebrated by bursting the clutch hydraulic line as I reversed out of the workshop. The Orange Gremlin is determined to have the last laugh. Nevertheless I retreated with no clutch (who said learning to drive buses with crash boxes wasn't useful). Turns out that the hose clip on one of the heater hoses has rubbed through the metal pipe just above the offside rear suspension arm. Of course it would be there, it's the most fiddly bit to get at isn't it.

Anyhow, slightly discouraged by the Skoda making me look a right idiot as I tried to get into reverse with half a clutch, I returned ten minutes later with the Xantia. Unsurprisingly given how meticulous the previous owner is, it got a clean pass without even the slightest hint of an advisory.

I'll put a couple of photos up tomorrow, using my phone just now so don't have an easy way to resize things.

Being Dante Red, unsurprisingly she suffers a bit from the sunburn like peeling clear coat in a few places. Most obvious are the bootlid, top of the nearside B pillar and the door tops. The roof looks to have been resprayed at some point, and the bonnet is mercifully free of the blisters that my previous Xantia was covered in. That's about it for issues though, having known the car for a couple of years I reckon it's probably one of if not the best sorted Activas going. Have only driven it very briefly between the test station and home, but feels like a new car... doesn't half go too...

Just have to wait a couple of days until I can drive it as due to a DVLA hiccup I need to wait for the V5C to arrive before I can tax it.

Well timed though, as the Riva injection fuel tank and pump have just arrived at Lada UK HQ...so I'll probably take the Riva off the road for a couple of months (it won't be going out when there's any salt on the roads anyway) while I finish off the fuel system the way the factory intended rather than my prior lash-up. Reckon that will make Mr. MOT Tester rather happier! Will also have a shot at figuring out where the infuriating creak from the front suspension is coming from. It's one of those noises that every time you think you've homed in on it, it sounds like it's coming from somewhere else.

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