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Not having a workshop to put the car and fiddle has started to irritate me. Not that there is a lot to do but I want to finish off the side trims, center console and start looking an anti-roll bar for the front end. The performance of the car is good but the handling is the main area I want to improve. Other things that are in need of some attention is cold starting and idle control, both have something that's not right about them.
Over the next few weeks things were very quite and I didn't take the car out. When I did I found the temperature gauge had run off the dial and there was a smell of boiling engine coolant. I pulled off the road and with in a short time noticed I had a puddle under the radiator over flow point. I drove very slowly to the next service station, lifted the bonnet and had a look. The radiator was nearly empty of water but there wasn't a whole anywhere insight. I filled it up, and headed off to drive the 4km home. Before I got more 2km the temp gauge was back in the red and water being forced through the over flow, filling up the reservoir and onto the road.
I got home and things were very hot, sounded bad and not looking good. My immediate thought was that I had cooked the engine but didn't know why. I let the whole thing cool while I looked through the service manual and put on the think tank for ideas. The more I looked, the more it became obvious that I had a blown head gasket that was pressurizing the cooling system and forcing the coolant out through the radiator overflow onto the ground below. I even tried filling the system and idling the engine with the cap off and before long noticed the water being forced out through the cap by large air surges. Nothing other than a blown head gasket came to mind and resided to the fact that I had to lift the head. I even started to plan improvements to make while I had it apart.
I left the car for a couple of day while I looked through the manual again and studied the cooling circuit in more detail. It was then that it occurred to me that if there was a restriction causing poor (or non) coolant to flow then the water could be boiling through lack of circulation. The pump was fine and decided to the remove the thermostat. Sure enough the problem disappear however it was only part of the problem. A second symptom occurred when the motor was revving above 4000rpm. After a time the water would boil yet if I reduced the revs to 3500 then the temp would return back to normal. This persisted for almost 12 months before I noticed that at 4000 the water pump had so much suction that it was collapsing the return hose from the radiator and stopping water circulation. As soon as I replace the hose with thin wall steel tube the problem disappeared and has never returned.
The car has enjoyed a very popular time on the Goldcoast and has been the subject of a lot of attention and discussions. It has shown to be a very important additional set of wheels in the house particularly during 2003 when we had three licensed people in the house and four that needed transporting around. My eldest son then was able to drive him self and although it took a while he eventually got the courage to use the as day to day transport.
During late 2003 Ben was returning from a late evening visit to a friends place and underestimated the combination of damp, cold roads with a bit of negative camber and a little to much right peddle pressure. He lost control of the car and slid it of the road over a small culvert and into a shallow creek. Fortunately the only damage was on the front end and had to rebuild the wishbones. A small amount of panel damage but all very repairable. The repair work took quit a while and mainly because I didn't have a workshop set up and secondly I decided to make some long overdue changes to the front end.
I decided to move the springs and shocked in board and install an anti roll bar. The end result has improved the ride, steering and handling quite a lot. The over riding problem with now has gone is its tendency to over steer and I believe this contributed to Ben's accident. Now that it has slight under steer characteristics and is much more controllable on cornering, rear wheel power slides, I feel it is a much safer car. Remembering that it has something like 220hp and the 18psi boost makes the power curve very lumpy and having a car that tends to over steer, can be a bit of a hand full at times.
So with all the work done and a repaint to the side and front panels and the nose cone, the car now looks and handles better than new. I'll post some photos
on the WEB soon and will happily communicate with anyone who has any questions. Cheers for now. Dick.. :)