Simon's SE5 Restoration

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Stitch
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Simon's SE5 Restoration

Post by Stitch » Mon Apr 09, 2018 7:29 pm

Hello!

So this is an introduction post to both me and my project. I've been lurking on here for quite some time, even before I created an account. I've been in love with Scimitars for a long, long time, for so long I don't really recall where my obsession comes from, but a love for shooting brake shapes and estates in general probably has something to do with it). As time goes on I started to nail down exactly what I was looking for from a Scimitar; eventually realising I preferred the look of the SE5/SE5a (thanks to the infamous Rover V8 powered car by John Hughes). Lots of ebay searching, lots of viewing rotting projects in fields and a lot of soul searching if I was really prepared for this, made me realise I wanted an SE5 for the flat dash, and that I wanted a project but nothing too dilapidated. A few facebook posts later and step forward this beautiful example; an extremely fair price considering the incalculable value of all the spare parts (including some impossible-to-source bits, a spare engine, more gearboxes and overdrives than one man could ever know what to do with, tools, books, spare interior trim). Described as a project, but I feel this is unfair as all the work the previous owner had put into this puts a step beyond that. Everything carefully bagged and labelled, prepped, painted and lovingly cared for - you really could not ask for a better example for an optimistic young man out of his depth! So begins the journey...

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I'm a Scotsman based in the South East at the minute and the car was based in Newcastle - probably would have been easier to drop it off back home! For now the car is staying in a heated, dry garage as I rent accomodation in London and don't have access to a safe garage in Kent (if anyone has any pointers on this I'd appreciate it). The plan is to rebuild the engine and gearbox now as this an area where I am decidedly out of my depth. I am a motorsport engineer, and my background is in composites , component design and racecar dynamics, not engines. Fortunately several of my colleagues at work are dab hands with the Essex V6 and have lots of experience with them, so I'm making the most of this knowledge while I twitch and wish I was fibreglassing!

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The engine itself was described to me as "good"; just needing rebuilt, and again it is in far better condition than I expected. This is a later "D" port engine, so needs a few bits swapping over (front dipstick cover, front bowl sump to clear the cross member etc.), but given that it wasn't far from completely stripped I wanted to take it apart for my own peace of mind.

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My first thoughts on taking the engine apart were just how clean everything was; there is still a clear sign of crosshatching on the cylinder bores and everything is extremely clean and tidy. Barring a minor issue (stripped the head of a con rod bolt - wasn't paying attention and used a 12-sided socket :oops: ) everything came out very clean. I do need to source some replacement bolts and don't want to spring for the ARP ones. Stripped block:

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And after a little cleaning of scale and rust:

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And a little before and during while blasting the inlet manifold:

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Unfortunately a couple of very minor issues have come up which prompt some soul searching on what to do. Originally the plan was to simply rebuild the car (literally almost everything required for this was included in the sale) on a fairly tight budget for no other reason than Scottish tight-fistedness) but now I need to decide whether I should continue this philosophy or give in to my urge to do things "properly".

Issue number 1 is a bit of pickup on two of the cam lobes. Oddly, the front cam bearing is spotless, so I thought I was clean and dry by then!

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And issue #2 is a score running down cylinder #3 (?) which can be comfortably felt by hand. Very odd, really unsure how it's happened as everything is so clean as can be seen!

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The debate really swings on whether to do something about the cylinder bore. Now that I know the camshaft isn't too nice, I'm going to look at a fast road repro from Piper Cams et al as we get a nice staff discount. And originally my plan was to get the heads ported if I was going to do that, as I am told the Essex benefits more from headwork than most other engines, and the previous owner had already gone to the effort of getting proper exhaust manifolds made for the car.

So the decision becomes whether I can tolerate the engine using a little oil (hardly a new phenomenon!) or whether to bore/line it. Which eats into the budget for other things. Some advice from the more knowledgeable folks on here would be very gratefully received!

I should clarify the plan has always been to put the car back fairly classically; I have no interest in shoehorning a 1400bhp twin superturbo V8 into this. To me that is not what this car is about; what I want is a more classic, yet practical, cruise wagon. I will probably update to a stereo radio (!) and some headrested seats, but otherwise it's supposed to stay pretty true to the original Scimitar vision.

So my questions are currently:

1) Where can I find some conrod bolts that aren't £245 ARP bolts?
2) How much will the Essex benefit from porting if it has good exhaust headers? I can get them ported at work very cheaply.
3) Is it worth going for an uprated camshaft since this one needs replacing anyway? I'd stick with "fast road" - I have no desire to lose the torque of the Essex, so thinking "fast road" or "ultimate road" rather than a rally or race cam.
4) Given the flywheel is the external balance for the V6, is it worth buying a lightened one?
5) How much of a disaster is the score in cylinder #3? Should I just tolerate some oil consumption?
6) What do people use for cleaning the engines and waterways before painting?
7) What do people use to paint the inlet manifold with? High temp paint like the block?


So! Lots of words! A very long introduction. Look forward to talking to you all and I'll really need to come along to Curborough some time soon. Incidentally I am in the British Hillclimb Paddock most weekends, working on a single seater. Come say hi!



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Post by peter freeman » Mon Apr 09, 2018 7:39 pm

I know that car - did not know he had it up for sale - very surprised.



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Post by philhoward » Mon Apr 09, 2018 8:28 pm

That bore doesn’t look too good to me - not sure if a hone will bring it back? If not, then either a rebore and new pistons (pricey) or get it sleeved (not cheap, but cheaper than pistons).


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Post by scimjim » Mon Apr 09, 2018 8:29 pm

Welcome and looks like a great project base :-)

Briefly:

1. I have a couple of spare engines and can donate a bolt or two - send me your address.
2. I’d always port and match while it’s apart - you won’t get 50 BHP but every little helps.
3. Definitely.
4. No - the huge torque low down is partly from the flywheel mass and inertia - go too light and it’ll be peaky at low rpm/speed.
5. Depends how deep it is - may be worth getting it re-honed?
6. Bottle brushes and elbow grease :D don’t forget the oilways
7. I haven’t found a decent VHT paint at a reasonable price - Engine enamel is much better IMHO.


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Current: SE5 (8Ball), TI SS1 (snotty), 1600 SS1 (G97), 1600 SS1 (C686CCR), 2.5TD SE5a (diesel 5a), 6 x random other SS1s.
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Post by rebel alliance » Mon Apr 09, 2018 8:44 pm

Nice colour Simon, is that the Caterham factory ?



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Post by Stupopt1 » Tue Apr 10, 2018 12:47 pm

love that colour.
mines red which I am going to stay with when I repaint, but the orange is cool.
Looks like a very good base to 'start' a resto,
mine was a typical barn find, although it was worse as it wasn't in a barn !.


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Post by Stitch » Tue Apr 10, 2018 10:20 pm

philhoward wrote:
Mon Apr 09, 2018 8:28 pm
That bore doesn’t look too good to me - not sure if a hone will bring it back? If not, then either a rebore and new pistons (pricey) or get it sleeved (not cheap, but cheaper than pistons).
I've asked the engine experts around me and the consensus is that while it's not great it's not that bad, an aggressive dingleball hone should help and I should just accept a small amount of oil consumption.

I did look at lining but they wanted a horrific amount of money (~£260), more than I am willing to drop at this point.

I have a spare block with the sale, what I will do for now is build it up and I can transplant the internals if it comes to it later on.

As mentioned before camshaft appears to be toast but it's also a bit shy of material making me wonder if it's been reground before. Need to get measuring.
scimjim wrote:
Mon Apr 09, 2018 8:29 pm
Welcome and looks like a great project base :-)

Briefly:

1. I have a couple of spare engines and can donate a bolt or two - send me your address.
2. I’d always port and match while it’s apart - you won’t get 50 BHP but every little helps.
3. Definitely.
4. No - the huge torque low down is partly from the flywheel mass and inertia - go too light and it’ll be peaky at low rpm/speed.
5. Depends how deep it is - may be worth getting it re-honed?
6. Bottle brushes and elbow grease :D don’t forget the oilways
7. I haven’t found a decent VHT paint at a reasonable price - Engine enamel is much better IMHO.
Thanks for the very detailed response! I'll pm you my address, thank you very much! Based on what you've said and others also far more knowledgable than me this is the path I'm going to head down.
rebel alliance wrote:
Mon Apr 09, 2018 8:44 pm
Nice colour Simon, is that the Caterham factory ?
It is!
Stupopt1 wrote:
Tue Apr 10, 2018 12:47 pm
love that colour.
mines red which I am going to stay with when I repaint, but the orange is cool.
Looks like a very good base to 'start' a resto,
mine was a typical barn find, although it was worse as it wasn't in a barn !.
Oh I don't envy you that! How rotten is the chassis and glass? Big fan of the 70s colours. Wasn't when I first saw mine but it's really grown on me!
Last edited by Stitch on Tue Apr 10, 2018 10:30 pm, edited 1 time in total.



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Simon's SE5 Restoration

Post by Stitch » Tue Apr 10, 2018 10:29 pm

Don't worry, the updates won't always come this thick and fast! I was going to do a step by step but I imagine these have been done to death by others far more knowledgeable than I.

Cylinder head teardown:
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Everything is rather coked up but it cleans up just fine. I've left the old gaskets on because they'll fall to bits when I remove them, and in the meantime they are a nice little bit of free protection to the gasket surface.
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Valves engraved so I can put them back in the right place.
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While inspecting I did notice that the valve springs are oriented a certain way which is contra to what I'd read and been told. For reference, the tighter coiling is on the top of all of mine. Here's a side-by-side shot, with the "wrong" orientation on the left, and the "correct" orientation on the right. Scream if I've got this wrong!
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And my very high tech solution...tyraps!
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Stripped heads ready for porting. I've left the 12 point nuts on to protect the threads (and to keep each one with its respective stud). I take it these do not require a lock nut due to the K-nut type feel and look to them?
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And finally, for my own satisfaction, a before and after shot on the cover plate. Given that I have free access to a media blaster...
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Post by scimjim » Tue Apr 10, 2018 10:34 pm

Yes, the rocker nuts are self-locking, but.......they’re probably 40 odd years and 100k miles old, so double check they still lock (they are very reliable but there have been isolated instances of reported failures).


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Post by philhoward » Wed Apr 11, 2018 12:41 am

Whilst in the region of the rockers, check all the posts are at the same height. They’re only pressed in and have been know to pull out.


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Post by AllingtonGT » Mon Apr 16, 2018 11:16 pm

Hi Simon,
Looking at that marked bore there also seems to be some pitting as well, unless it’s just the picture? I had an Essex block that had a porous bore that had rusted from the water jacket into the cylinder. Pictures show what was revealed after first run of the boring machine.
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IMG_3667.jpg (164.48 KiB) Viewed 1273 times
Before only a very few shallow pit marks were evident. Might be worth investigating further before progressing with that block?
Geoff
Last edited by AllingtonGT on Tue Apr 17, 2018 10:29 am, edited 1 time in total.



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Post by scimjim » Tue Apr 17, 2018 6:20 am

Stitch wrote:
Mon Apr 09, 2018 7:29 pm
And issue #2 is a score running down cylinder #3 (?) which can be comfortably felt by hand.
Cylinder numbers (and firing order) are cast into the inlet manifold - that’s number 6 :)


Jim King

Current: SE5 (8Ball), TI SS1 (snotty), 1600 SS1 (G97), 1600 SS1 (C686CCR), 2.5TD SE5a (diesel 5a), 6 x random other SS1s.
Previous: SE5, 3 x SE5a, 2 x SE6a, 3 x SE6b, GTC, 2.9i GTC, 3 x 1600 SS1, 1300 SS1, Mk1 Ti Sabre, Mk1.5 CVH Sabre
Chief mechanic for: 1400 K series SS1 (Megan3), 1400 CVH EFi SS1 (Grawpy), Sabre/MX5 auto (The Flying Broomstick),
1300 SS1 (Number One) & Sarah's coupe.
CURE THE FAULT - NOT THE SYMPTOMS

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Post by David Tew » Tue Apr 17, 2018 4:09 pm

You're probably well aware but in the first photo of the engine on the stand the sump shown is the wrong one for the engine. The block you have is rear-well and the dipstick should be in a push-in tube on side of the block - you can see the drilling for it. The sump shown is a front-well and needs a different timing cover which contains the dipstick. Not only are the dipsticks in different places, the oil pump pick-up is also different. The SE5 had a front-well sump up to chassis 453501 and rear-well afterwards.

:wink:


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Post by Stitch » Wed Apr 18, 2018 9:59 am

AllingtonGT wrote:
Mon Apr 16, 2018 11:16 pm
Hi Simon,
Looking at that marked bore there also seems to be some pitting as well, unless it’s just the picture? I had an Essex block that had a porous bore that had rusted from the water jacket into the cylinder. Pictures show what was revealed after first run of the boring machine.

Before only a very few shallow pit marks were evident. Might be worth investigating further before progressing with that block?
Geoff
Excellent point and thanks for your keen eye. I will have another, closer look but I think what you are seeing is just oily fingers, gasket residue and muck that has stuck to the oiled cylinder wall. But I'm just off to check now that you've got me nervous! :D
scimjim wrote:
Tue Apr 17, 2018 6:20 am
Stitch wrote:
Mon Apr 09, 2018 7:29 pm
And issue #2 is a score running down cylinder #3 (?) which can be comfortably felt by hand.
Cylinder numbers (and firing order) are cast into the inlet manifold - that’s number 6 :)
...thank you. I will learn, I promise!

David Tew wrote:
Tue Apr 17, 2018 4:09 pm
You're probably well aware but in the first photo of the engine on the stand the sump shown is the wrong one for the engine. The block you have is rear-well and the dipstick should be in a push-in tube on side of the block - you can see the drilling for it. The sump shown is a front-well and needs a different timing cover which contains the dipstick. Not only are the dipsticks in different places, the oil pump pick-up is also different. The SE5 had a front-well sump up to chassis 453501 and rear-well afterwards.

:wink:
I was very fortunate when buying this car that an incredible amount of knowledge was passed over to me (and hopefully I do it justice). So yes, this is a post '72 'D' port engine, but I have the front bowl sump, front bowl pickup, replacement front timing cover etc., and a grub screw in the block to block the old dipstick tube.

That's one of the few things I am confident about though, along with the requirement for the timing gear. Either way thank you for pointing this all out, it's definitely better to assume I don't know because a) I'll learn and b) it's in writing somewhere in the future for someone else too!



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Post by Coupe Racing » Wed Apr 18, 2018 10:28 am

The early sump is prone to oil surge when braking and cornering


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