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Blasted Engine - Dry sump

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In the beginning there was light and all was good.......

Well up until the point when I removed the cam belt to change it for a nice shiny new one. The crankshaft went clunk, dunk, thug, thought that was a little strange, pretty sure it shouldn't be making that noise )-: My heart sank as I suddenly saw money oozing from the galleries and seals of the engine.

When I had stopped crying I decided that action would really need to be taken and find out what needs to be done. I checked the endfloat and it was about 4mm, when it should be 0.08-0.2mm..... so err slightly off. I Knew that the thrust washers had come off, but thought that even with them out this was a little excessive. Initial plan would be to see what was lurking under the dry sump and make a decision from there. So I started stripping off all the ancillaries that I had so lovingly put on just days before. Well at least it was all nice and clean and the bolts weren't rusty and seized, so didn't take too long to remove the plenum and carbs. Even with only those off I felt like I was making immediate progress. Noticed that even though the carbs were cleaned and polished the aluminum had already started to have white corrosion marks on, not good, I'll have to address that when I reinstall.

As it was getting cold and late I thought I'd call it a day and attack the engine in the morning.

Over night I had been thinking more about it, and realising there and then that this wasn't going to be a quick job, decided to take the engine indoors to my workshop where I can work on it in relative warmth and most importantly the dry, over the winter. This was no mean feat as I had to juggle about a lot of stuff in order to make enough working room around the engine. Why is it that there's never enough storage space?

Engine now in the dry I could attack it with zeal, external oil pump was first to go, with about 8 x M6 nuts holding it on, no problem at all, I suppose that all that oil had kept all the nuts nicely protected and lubricated. Very elaborate seal underneath though, it'll have to be an original seal to replace it as I don't fancy cutting that out of the gasket paper. On later internal inspection I found that the annulus and rotor were all good, this was a major plus as these parts are really really rare to get hold of.

Whipped the engine over and WD-40'd all fixings that I could see, then went for a cuppa tea. Refreshed and bolts readily soaked, started removing the lower ones on the sump, working my way from the centre outwards, some where extremely tough to get going....a bigger lever was needed. Then removed the smaller nuts around the edge of the casting, these were a b*gger because the casting itself wraps around the nut so tightly that you can only just get a socket on only half the top of the nut. There wasn't a hope in hell of getting any spanner on it either. Felt like this could have been the turning point for me, if I'd struggled too much and either stripped the threads or the outer edges, I'd probably had thrown my tools down in a strop and paid someone to finish the job for me. End seals were then removed, well partly, the cam belt end wasn't going to come off without a special tool that I'd have to make up, so I let it dangle there in the mean time and proceeded onwards.

Narrowly escaping the major strop and excessive output of cashflow paying someone to do this engine rebuild for me, I got all the nuts off. Now for teasing the aluminum casting off the long studs, which all in all took about 1 hour. Rubber mallet and casting now severely beaten into submission and with the lower half of the crank casing on the work bench, I inspected the innards like a surgeon and he's poorly patient. As suspected the thrust washers had indeed come out, but were whole, thought they may have been mushed into a billion pieces, good sign. But then there was this additional ring that had been broken, pretty sure that that wasn't supposed to be there. Later investigation on the LF and eyeing it up against the crank in the daylight showed that is was part of the casting of the crankshaft, which had cracked in a perfect circle around the main bearing. Cause was that the number 5 main bearing wasn't getting enough oil from the reworked chamfer on the crank case casting. The PO didn't line up the Vee with the Chamfer so it was starved of all oil, not good for something that was rotating that quickly against another metal object. Took the parts and engine up to Lotusbits for an expert assessment and advice.

Although I knew the crank was toast, I thought that the rest would be ok to put back, considering the pistons were new and beautifully forged. However there was a large amount of float on the pins in the piston, so a new set of Mahle forged pistons were purchased along with seal set and rings. looks like this is turning into a full rebuild /-: Have to keep reminding myself that this is a preservation project to keep our heritage on the road. It turns out that the dry sump that I have is the 1 in 100 that was bored out to 0.015", which generally means that because the main bearings are as rare as hens teeth that the sump is now a lovely oily door stop. Only two options available to me: 

1. Buy a wet sump engine.


2. Skim the top off the original lower crank casing and line bore back to standard with a 2nd hand upper casting already at standard size.

I wasn't liking any of these options, first one would not only take a vast amount of money out of my pocket it would also depreciate the dry sump engine car. 

So like most OCD Lotus Esprit drivers I started trawling the internet adamant that I could get the holy grail of bearings to fit my car. By hook or by crook I will find some til my dying day!!!!!!!!!



Update to this....

Amazing I found some bearings +0.015" ....yay!!!!

I got a mate to send them to me ....yay!!!!

Haven't received them yet and this is 3 days after being posted 1st class!!!!!

I'm now quietly crying in the corner of my house while I write this ?

Fingers are still crossed that they turn up, could be the Black Friday post is a little slow this week....

Update to the Update

Bearings have now turned up, they were sat safe and sound in the post office waiting for collection, only problem was that they didn't tell me they were there!! Good old PO, anyway I nearly keeled over when I opened the box and saw the gleaming bearings glinting in the sunshine. My daughter thought I'd gone a little loopy when I started doing a little jig on the pavement. However she benefited from my unusually generous behaviour by receiving a big chocolate bar from the newsagents. My happiness was alas short lived though, when one of the really really rare bearings, as opposed to the really rare bearings, was scuffed.....oh man, from ecstasy to misery in a few short minutes. I'm not sure I can take this sort of feeling, my constitution isn't used to these roller coaster emotions. Phoning back Phil, who I'd originally bought the bearings from bared no fruit, apart from a sharp discussion about not wanting to return the money to me for supplying a faulty bearing. Eventually all was sorted and my task for looking for another one started out in earnest. Thanks to this forum and in particular JerryS for pointing me in the right direction it turns out these bearings weren't as rare as I was led to believe, apparently they were still available at source, so I got them to send another one through. It just goes to show that when someone gives you advice on something, it's sometimes worth doing the donkey work to find out for yourself! 

Next installment will be the building of the engine which I will start a new blog for.......

One last note, a friend of mine keeps reminding me that so many people generally give up on their restoration, for the very same reason, too much stress and emotional turmoil that it's difficult to take on a constant basis. I think everything had gone so well for me up to this point I'd fooled myself into thinking it would continue on this vein, and when it went a little south, I began to wobble slightly. I feel I'm now over a hurdle and stronger for it.....bring it on!


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