Jump to content

Scimitar mission creep

Escadrille Ecosse

Recommended Posts

It started off with a missfire. No compression on number 4 cylinder and not much on the adjacent number 6. The blowdown test suggests is a passing exhaust valve.

It's a 3.9 Rover V8 so burnt exhaust valve, stuck hyraulic tappet, head gasket? So just take the head off that bank for a peek. Where's the fun in that.

Engine and gearbox out and we can sort the oil leaks, weak 2nd gear synchro and a few other things while we're at it.

So I have spent a fair part of yesterday and today getting things cleared which means radiator out to get access to the suspension crossbrace to give access to the PAS rack out to get the engine out.

Hose from the outlet of the radiator to the water pump is a bugger. Goes from the front of the radiator :ninja: over the chassis rail to a pipe that runs between the upper and lower wishbones before going back in and up to the waterpump. Impossible to completely drain that lot no matter how hard you try.

And then when I got the crossflow radiator out I found that the lower rail that bolts to the car has broken away from the header tanks each side. Need to sort that before it goes back in.

Next step is getting the PAS rack out. That is even more of a b.....d. The hydraulic pipes are steel and need to come off before the rack can come out. But to get to the connections at the pinion the rack has to be unbolted from the chassis and balljoints. And to do that the column needs to come free from the pinon axcept the bolt for that is hidden and unreachable inside the chassis upright. So lots of stuff off and ATF everywhere. Grrr



Then the rack can come out. Except that it weighs about 15kg.

Got the rest of the stuff cleared from the engine bay. Was dreading the manifolds as access is chuffing tight. Mostly OK except for the very back ones. The left hand side is also a bit distorted so will need a bit of massaging to get it to fit better.

Removing the remote oil filter hoses also made a mess as it was impossible to catch everything. As were the hoses to the heater!

Then under the car after drying the floor. Had to jack it up onto axle stands as the hoist is full of Spitfire so a bit of a faff there too. That and Rover randomly mixing AF and metric nuts and bolts of the LT77 gearbox. All done there now except for the crossmember supporting the back of the box but that is easy to reach. And just realised I forgot to remove the wires from the reverse switch :mad:.

And the speedo cable is in a pretty poor state. It's the original and is fractionally short anyway so could do with a new one. Longer or maybe look at the routing through the bulkhead.

Put the back of the car on wood blocks to give a bit of height for getting the tail of the box out. Front wheels all akimbo as the PAS Scimitars have a LOT of caster.


Then had look at the free gearbox I have acquired.


Stuck in gear which I assumed was just the linkage in the extension. The linkage was seized and needed stripping down pretty much to its component parts to get off. Fortunately I don't need this extension as I have a shortened one to fit the Scimitar.


However. Bad news is that the box is still stuck in gear. I can wiggle the selector shaft but I can't shift it to neutral. Might just need the leverage of the gearlever. Or might need opening up.

That was enough for today. Hopefully get the engine out tomorrow and onto the stand for a look.

  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Not sure that bollocks provides the neccessary level of emphasis


Unless I want to use it to remove the water pump it's about as much use as a chocolate fireguard. AND it creeps under load which nearly caught me out - and my hand on one rather alarming occasion.

The engine really is a long way back.

So after a lot of swearing and buggering about over and under the car with jacks, blocks of wood, etc the days effort got the engine and gearbox from there to here...


The hoist can just about reach from there but to no avail as even if I took the wheels off the car it won't lift the even the engine high enough to clear the nose panel. Now I remember why I used the car lift when I swapped the V8 for the V6 all those years ago.

So plan B. A few years back a mate was clearing out a warehouse and found an electric hoist which he donated to me. Clearly almost new but in its short life had been subject to some highly questionable modifications. When I got it I sorted out the electrics to make them safe again but didn't get round to replacing the wire rope. Presumably the ape that perpetrated the various indignities on the poor thing knackered the end of the cable and then cut it short as there are still a few broken stands in there. But I am not sure which is worse, removing the overtravel actuator or clamping the return end with a brass hinge. Dawin must have been looking the other way at that point.


Anyway ordered a new cable and grips to make it good and tennis ball on the end will sort the overtavel. I've also ordered some short lifting strops, shackles and lifting eyes so I can hang it from the beam in the garage. Means moving the front of the car under the beam but will give plenty of lift height.


12 hours ago, Nick Jones said:

How much worse is the V8 compared to the V6?

Not so much. The rear exhaust manifold bolts and spark plugs are a bit of a challenge and the front pulley is so close to the steering rack that changing the fanbelt is a significant undertaking. That and the coolant return otherwise most of the issues, like the steering rack itself were attended to by Reliant. I did have to widen the tunnel very slightly on the driver's side and make a new strut brace in front of the engine but that was pretty much it for structural mods.

The V8 is such a better engine than the V6 even before tuning that it is well worth the trouble. Far nicer engine. And for all it's faults the gearbox is no worse than the modified Ford unit with it's side shift levers on the flexibly mounted gearbox that connect to the gearlever which is rigidly mounted on the body. Changing gear while accelerating hard in a RH corner was not possible.

12 hours ago, Nick Jones said:

Surely you are not seriously contemplating sticking an unknown LT77 in without prior investigation?  How hard to upgrade to R380?

God no. I was hoping to be able to use the spare for parts or send away for overhaul if necessary. As for the R380 I have looked at this but there are almost as many reliability issues and the 2WD versions are very difficult to find now. It is possible I believe to convert a 4WD to 2WD using bits like the rear casing from the LT 77 but you also need a new input shaft and 5th gearset. Which all starts getting quite expensive. And while the synchro rings and bushes on the R380 are much better they have other problems like selector forks and layshaft splines.

I am considering just cutting to the chase and sending the gearbox to Ashcroft to get rebuilt properly. Or maybe speak to them about doing the conversion if I provide the core units.

More mission creep...

  • Like 2
Link to comment
Share on other sites

PS. The ultimate answer of course is to fit a Ford T5. Not any old T5 of course but the World Class version with the appropriate gearset and selector to get the gearlever in the right place. And the special bellhousing. Unfortunatley that combo is likely to cost as much as the rest of the car.

If I was going to spend that sort of money I would probably go for the Jaguar 6 speed autobox instead which would suit the car and V8 quite well.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

You are reminding me why I’ve never owned one of these cars even though I very much like their concept and looks…… In fact you are adding more detail than I ever knew.

I wonder how much aggro to squeeze a Jag v6 and gearbox (manual or auto to taste)….. Or a VAG 1.9 TDI PD with a Toyota W58. This latter would take some effort to make civilised but has Potential to be both quick and economical.

On a perhaps (marginally) more realistic note Vitesse transmissions can supply new modified MX5 gearboxes to bolt up to the RV8. Under £3k…. Just.:ninja:

  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

On 8/8/2022 at 9:59 PM, Nick Jones said:

Or a VAG 1.9 TDI PD with a Toyota W58. This latter would take some effort to make civilised but has Potential to be both quick and economical.

Diesel, diesel!!!! Oh spawn of the devil! :nuke: :biggrin:

On 8/8/2022 at 9:59 PM, Nick Jones said:

I wonder how much aggro to squeeze a Jag v6 and gearbox (manual or auto to taste)…..

That would be very nice, but yeah, heading where few have gone before. I am missing the car already let alone going through the pain of another conversion. I do have to say that the RV8 is a nice straightforward engine and makes a lovely noise.

On 8/8/2022 at 9:59 PM, Nick Jones said:

On a perhaps (marginally) more realistic note Vitesse transmissions can supply new modified MX5 gearboxes to bolt up to the RV8. Under £3k…. Just.:ninja:

You tempted me there for a minute and I went and had a look. Very nice indeed - as they should be for that price - but 'fortunately' the gearlever comes out far too far back.

I have been busy on preparation for the next domestic project however the car situation was bugging and I want to get things moving. So thinking about it I realised that it's easy to shuffle the engine forward in the bay and then access to the bellhousing on the V8 is dead easy. The few bolts underneath are an easy reach and the main ones are all accessible from the top. So today I got stuck it about it and turned out to be straightforward, the only annoyance being the AF/metric bolt mix.

Supported the engine on a bit of wood across the wings (good old GRP), supported the back of the gearbox on a wheel dolly and the front off snother bit of wood. Split the two and dropped the box down and out of the way. Hoist now has plenty enough lift and out it came




Then got the clutch and flywheel on and onto the engine stand with my homemade adapters - after I remembered how they went



Jacked up the front of the car and wheeled the gearbox out too.

All rather manky. Oil leaks from the sump gasket, rear crank oil seal which seems to be the worst and the remote adapter for the oil filter. So will give it all a good clean before stripping the engine at the weekend.

Clutch needs replaced. The fingers are quite worn as is the pressure plate. Flywheel also a bit worn so probably get it skimmed. Clutch plate itself still has a surprising amount of life. That's good old Borg and Beck for you.


  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Good progress being made...... hopefully you don't find anything too nasty when you pull the heads.  Looks nice in clean inside - you've obviously been keeping up with your oil changes.  How many miles since you converted it?

1 hour ago, Escadrille Ecosse said:

Diesel, diesel!!!! Oh spawn of the devil! :nuke: :biggrin:

Yeah, the expected reaction..... and I know what you mean......  I'm quite fond of my old 5-pot smoke generator though.  Probably a bit long for this application - hence the 1.9PD, which is more compact.  It's rather unrefined, gruff even, but chips-up to 200bhp+ with epic torque, without internal mods and all while still maintaining 50+ mpg.....  I know I'm wasting my breath...... :biggrin:

Good luck with your investigations!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

On 8/11/2022 at 10:02 PM, Nick Jones said:

How many miles since you converted it?

Did the job in 2005. Done about 50k since then.

Gave the outside of engine a good clean before I started stripping it down. Nothing obvious with the cam and all the followers were working OK


However once I got the followers out signs of early wear. Pity as the cam lobes still look good but probably not worth trying to save the cam. Rest of the valve gear seems OK.

Then got the head off the offending bank. No 4 piston. Can you tell what it is yet?


No 6 is the same just not quite so bad. Nothing visible on the inlet valves but obviously been bent as a result.

Bores look OK and the liners haven't dropped which is good so I might get away with two new inlet valves, two new pistons, a set of rings and a hone of all eight while it's getting done. It's at +.020 which is the limit before new liners so fingers crossed with that. Plus the cam and followers of course. And timing chain. And....

I would like to keep the block as I did quite a bit of work cleaning up the castings internally to aid oil return to the sump. And the heads are good too.

Need to get the bottom end apart now.


Link to comment
Share on other sites

9 hours ago, Nick Jones said:

Oh…… wasn’t expecting that.

Me neither. I suspect pumped lifters.

9 hours ago, Nick Jones said:

Surely that piston damage is purely cosmetic though?

You are probably right although I would need to remove any shart edges to avoid hot spots. The other issue is whether or not I can get +.020" pistons in singles. Still considering.

9 hours ago, Nick Jones said:

Does the bottom end really need to come apart or are you just being thorough?

Just being thorough. It is such a chore to take out my hope is that this will see me and the car out. I am resisting going full top hat liners and capacity increases. Although there are a lot of fairly easy options out there and I have been doing a lot of browsing of 4.2, 4.6 and 5.0 L alternatives. But they would really need a higher diff and if I was doing that then why not add a Gripper and on it goes. :blink:

However I have made a couple of purchases. I remembered too late about these for it to arrive before I got the engine out but will have it for going back in...


Bolts to the inlet manifold in place of the 4 barrel carb and makes lifting a lot easier.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Finally managed to stop myself looking at bigger engine possibilities, for the time being at least, by perusing camshaft options and then happened upon this


Not interested in injection options for the car but the RV8 is ridiculously sensitive to ignition, pretty much every and all things you can think of. So wondered what Sideways think of the Megajolt route?

The only slightly tricky issue is that on the pre-1994 'serpentine' engines like mine the oil pump is driven via the distributor.

Almost finished getting it all apart amongst all the other domestic diversions. Thought this was interesting. The original engine showed the usual signs of rust staining in the waterways but I used OAT antifreeze after I rebuilt it. You can see the difference the next 16 years has made between the block and the pump. Most impressed I have to say. That is the 'as found' condition.



  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Mapped 3D ignition is the business. Especially IMO in distributor-less form.

You can always leave a stump to drive the oil pump…..

MJL is well regarded. Not sure how available the EDIS hardware it needs to support it is these days? The 6 & 8 cyl stuff was never common.

OAT antifreeze FTW looks like :)

Link to comment
Share on other sites

On 8/17/2022 at 6:37 PM, Nick Jones said:

You can always leave a stump to drive the oil pump…..

Ebay supplied a Lucas 35DLM8 spares or repair which has the important bits in good nick so I don't have to butcher the NOS one I have fitted at present.

Trigger wheels can supply a refurbished 8 cylinder EDIS unit which will drive a pair of quad coils so seems to be the way to go with the MJ. It seems the hardest part of the MJ conversion may be fitting the trigger wheel itself as I have a modified SD1 pulley to suit the fanbelt run for MGB GT V8 water pump and alternator with a second pulley behind for the PAS pump. A 4WD pulley set would be easier but for some reason these have become almost impossible to get at a sensible price.

I also acquired a very cheap RV8 flex plate and spacers as I am still toying with the idea of the auto box conversion. Although in an effort to minimise the immediate mission creep I plan on a quick refurb of whichever of the manual LT77 boxes appears to be the best candidate. Probably the ex-TR7 one.

Very little progress as I was out most of the weekend but I did manage to get the sump off and pull No1 piston to have a squint at the bearings and crank.

Sump was clean, the only real debris in there looks like gasket/sealant which has dropped in during the stripdown.


Big end bearings and journal look good too. Mains and big ends both still standard size so hopefully the rest are as good. The front cam bearing has noticeable wear on the lower quadrant presumably from the chain drive loading. There was some wear here when I rebuilt the engine originally but I'll change the bearings this time round.




  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

On 8/26/2022 at 11:51 AM, michaeljf said:

Hope your rebuild goes straight forward ,quickly and economically. Regards, Michael. 

I'm not blaming you Michael, however the timing was priceless

Number 3 big end :confused:


There is a very slight corresponding mark on the journal that you can just see/feel with a fingernail. Number 3 (centre) main also had a similar if much smaller mark.

I suspect a bit of contamination somehow. All the other bearings and journals look fine. The crank is still std size so I'm hoping a +.010" regrind will do the trick.

Need to go along to the machine shop anyway as the flywheel desperately need refaced.

And while it's out of the car the steering rack is going away for an ovehaul as it was showing signs of occasional misbehaviour, the odd drip from the RH gaiter and some stickiness at the dead ahead. Just wrap it up and post it to us says the man at Kiley-Clinton - and give us the pipes too. It's very big, VERY heavy and bloody awkward. And no matter how long I have spent trying to drain out the ATF, the stuff just keeps appearing.


I spent a good while last night wrapping it up and trying to protect the pipes. Not quite at the stage of putting it in a box as by that time I was too tired and weary of the experience. Some of the pipes and end fitting need replacing. 8mm and 10mm metric flare fittings with a bloody awkward M12 and M14 x 1.5mm thread pitch. Hours hunting I finally tracked down a UK supplier. Our good friends who make the Cohline petrol hose.


Link to comment
Share on other sites

On 8/30/2022 at 8:45 PM, Nick Jones said:

Engine rebuilds… straightforward, quick, cheap……? Never all three together, lucky to get one!

This. Humph.

The rack got packed and taken along to the the long suffering staff at our local post office. 14kg :blink: The girl suggested I pass it over the barrier to her. I suggested through the door at the end of the counter. There was only the slightest raising of eyebrows as she took the full weight of the thing.

Waiting for a couple of bits for the engine before taking the relevant parts to the machine shop. In the meantime I have ordered the parts to rebuild the gearbox (those that are available anyway) which arrived this morning. Thick end of £300 quid. Bit of fun comparing the LT77 synchro rings with those from the Spitfire/GT6 box. Even so they are (one of many) weak points of the LT77.


And on my 'weekend off' working on the living room floor I spent a good part of today cleaning the gearbox. Externally it wasn't too bad but there was obviously a bit of a leak from the rear crank oil seal so inside the bellhousing was disgusting. And then started the stripdown.

It's bloody enormous and an unfeasibly heavy bugger...


After that I needed my tea. Treat tonight was haggis and mashed tatties. However as I am intolerant of neeps (turnips) - that's intolerant as I cannot abide them rather than the more recent meaning of the word - I have mine with peas. And some brown sauce. Yummy. :biggrin:

Hopefully the haggis plus porrige for breakfast will steel me sufficiently to start the stripdown of the box.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

1 hour ago, Escadrille Ecosse said:

Hopefully the haggis plus porrige for breakfast will steel me sufficiently to start the stripdown of the box.

You only get full points if you complete the gearbox rebuild outside on a windy moor, bare-chested, wearing the kilt and using the sporran for tool storage. 

  • Haha 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

3 hours ago, Escadrille Ecosse said:

I am intolerant of neeps (turnips

:smile: Me too. Bloody horrible. Let the cows and pigs have them!


1 hour ago, thebrookster said:

You only get full points if you complete the gearbox rebuild outside on a windy moor, bare-chested, wearing the kilt and using the sporran for tool storage. 


Link to comment
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
  • Create New...