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How dirty contacts can lead to a multi-thousand pound engine rebuild

Jamie Garroch

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This is a small lesson in keeping your car well maintained but I guess TLF readers won't be as stupid as me!


In the summer of last year, I pulled the entire interior out of my Esprit and had it re-trimmed by a professional. On putting it all back in again, I had a coolant level indicator on permanently on the dash binnacle. I checked the level and as it was normal, assumed that I'd messed up some wiring when refitting the binnacle and promised myself I'd sort it out... soon.


Timing can sometimes be catastrophic. A week later, I blew one of the main water pump hoses and as the coolant warning light was permanently on and I didn't see the temperature gauge creeping up, the first I knew about it was plumes of stem coming from the tailgate.


It was recovered on a flatbed truck and taken away to my local Lotus specialist in Maidenhead where the hose was replaced and a full engine check made which seemed to show I had been lucky.


I then drove down to Brands Hatch and used a hell of a lot of water. And that was that.


After a lot of chat on TLF, I found Dave (CHANGES) who came and towed the car away and spend the next few months rebuilding the engine. I opted for a rebuild rather than an exchange because I would have photographic evidence of everything that was done and Dave, true to his word performed an excellent job.


Finally, it turned out that the coolant level warning light was permanently on due to dirty contacts on the sensor in the ignition compartment of the boot :-(


The moral of the story : don't be a lazy bugger like me!


Here's several of the 170 or so photos Dave took during the rebuild to remind you of this simple fact!

















































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I'm human, just not like the rest! Why?

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Now that's a nice rebuild, very tasty :D

88 Esprit NA, 89 Esprit Turbo SE, Evora, Evora S, Evora IPS, Evora S IPS, Evora S IPS SR, Evora 400, Elise S1, Elise S1 111s, Evora GT410 Sport

Evora NA

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That's indeed a lot of work and money to fix a bad contact ! :-/


Engine looks like new but the dirty alternator hasn't enjoyed the same treatement and kinda looks out of place now ! ;-)


Nice rebuild cosmetically, but on a more technical level you didn't even say what needed to be replaced during the rebuild ?


What was the extent of the damaged in the end ? Head hasket obviously, but was the head warped, anything else suffered ?


And why did the camshaft covers end up blue rather than red ?! :innocent:

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I got interrupted by someone wanting a tree cut down while writing this post so I had to throw the chainsaw in the boot of the Esprit and hike off to storm damage. I do like to see the look on people's faces when I turn up like that.


So, on to respond to a couple of comments/questions:


Buddsy : it's something I could have done myself back in the "old days" but just don't have the time or patience now. Dave did a sterling job and he is extremely methodical, patient and his attention to detail is second to none. Very pleased with what he achieved.




- Ancillary items and carb strip down were going to blow the budget and since they are working perfectly fine and one can't see them, I didn't bother.

- In terms of replacement items, the obvious things like water pump, every single seal and gasket, then bearing shells, and most expensively, four new Nikasil piston liners (that was a grand alone).

- Machining was kept to a minimum with the head only. Crank and cams were ok.

- Finally, the cam covers and plenum chamber are actually purple (Dave's camera did lie in this case) and I requested that to match the interior which is vibrant to contrast the total lack of colour on the exterior as in the pics below.



Here you can see the engine/interior colour match.



Another camera lying! It doesn't look that pink at all. I'll have to take some in natural daylight.



Plenty more of these great shots from Malcolm Feth at

Edited by Buddsy

I'm human, just not like the rest! Why?

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Nice job Mate and good lessons-learned sharing.

Don't be too hard on yourself though, from a system design perspective the cooling system is a fail-fail system with a single sensor (which is wired to give no indication on its own failure - except on shorting).

I am sure engineers back in the day sometimes over-relied on 'regular maintenance inspections' rather than better designs. If this weren't the case, the 70's iconic novel 'Zen, the art of motorcycle maintenance' would not exist.

Hmmm, pretty deep for me today ha ha!

Iain :)

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Thanks for the info.. I did not know your car (been rather absent from the forum in the recent years...), very special indeed ! The purple manifold indeed makes sense !


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