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Here we go again:(

I was out for a drive Friday,  driving normally (not spirited in any way), I let up the throttle in a 90 degree right hand corner and when going on throttle again she lost all power (like running on one cylinder only) and sounded strange from the exhaust. My first thought was, out of fuel, my second, misfireing. I limped for some 200-300 meters in order to find a good spot to pull over. While doing this I checked all gauges and warning lights, nothing. I could smell petrol as I pulled over and turned the engine off. Gauge showing 1/2 tank of fuel, so I was pretty sure there was fuel available. Checked the engine bay but nothing obvious.

Decided to get a tow truck :ermm:

He arrived 90 minutes later and suggested we tried to start her up. Cranked alright but no start until I floored the throttle to ventilate out fuel if flooded. Then she started but sounded badly and he shouted to me to turn it off as there was fuel spraying on the exhaust manifold!!! There was a big puddle under the car now, below the exhaust manifold (which also showed a moist stain after cylinder 4).
manifoldmoist.JPG
This I thought was strange as there is no fuel line in that part of the engine bay, but the smell of fuel was strong. I checked feed and return lines in the fueling system but couldn't find any leaks. Dipped my fingers in the puddle on the tarmac and they turned brown, like it was oil and the smell of fuel was more like the smell from exhaust mixed in oil from crankhouse.

This is when I started to think along the lines of "head gasket failure". The engine was now cool so I could check coolant level, and it was pretty low, although not empty but there was a smell of exhaust when I opened the header tank.
Oil was at upper mark according to dipstick and no indication of coolant in the oil.

Yesterday I checked compression on all 4 cylinders, reading as follows in PSI (readings from November in line below)
cyl1: 155   cyl2: 150   cyl3: 143   cyl4: 150

cyl 1: 151  cyl 2: 152  cyl 3: 159  cyl 4: 152

Looks like cylinder 3 has lost some pressure. The others I'd say is within the difference one could expect from ambient temp and the state of the battery.

Is it possible to change the head gasket with the engine in the car or do I need to take it out?

 

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Torque times RPM equals horsepower!

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Update! Installed the new fuel pressure regulating valve that arrived yesterday. She started immediately! No fuel leaks, only a slight smell of oil burning off of the exhaust manifold but th

I'm wondering how we got from a fuel leak to an engine out job. What have I missed?

Personally, I think you've eliminated head gasket failure with your compression test.  Strong fuel smell and how you re-started the car with the tow truck operator would indicate flooding (with fuel).

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Possible but not advisable, you have to disconnect the engine and transaxle from sub-frame to tilt enough to get the head off. You have the battle that is timing belt in situ, and the hassle of either removing manifold and head as one or removing the manifold in situ.

My advice is, remove the engine and transaxle, it makes it less of a battle to do the tasks.

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And , if you can, try a leak-down tester in it before you go that far.

those specs are within tolerance ( 10% of each other IIRC), and the symptoms sound like something more radical than slight pressure loss in one cyl...fuel starvation? 

Has it been running well up to now, and for how long?

Good luck resolving, and hope you don't have to take the lump out!?

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  • Gold FFM

Them numbers ain't a million miles out though- I'm sure they would not be causing catastrophic failure !!!

i wish you all the best - that fuel has to be coming for somewhere - strange - do let us all know how you get on

Only here once

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Put her on axlestands today and crawled under to have a look, took some pics...

exman01.JPGexman02.JPGexman03.JPGexman04.JPG

Defenitely something bad going on in the area of cylinder 4 exhaust. There is also a spray pattern from there and backwards, even on the rear valance lower left.
Kind of strange that compression readings for cyl 4 looks OK. The car has been running fine until this happened.
Can't all have been petrol, then it should have been dry by now. Feels like oil to the touch.
I'm at a loss here, if not the head gasket, what could it be? Any oil passing from head to block in that area?
Been looking at pictures of the gasket, thinking maybe something like the magenta line in picture below (my addition),
Hgasket01.JPG(pic borrowed from meek.nu)
Is it possible for the nuts holding the head to the block coming loose over time?
Not sure but wasn't there an update in service notes that torqueing to the right amount wasn't enough, that one should thereafter wait a specified period of time and then tighten an amount of degrees?

There is also the possibilty that two things are wrong.


 

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Torque times RPM equals horsepower!

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  • Gold FFM

Hi mate. Do you have a boroscope?  I'd love to know what the inside of cyl4 looks like.

British Fart to Florida, Nude to New York, Dunce to Denmark, Numpty to Newfoundland.  And Shitfaced Silly Sod to Sweden.

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Tow guy thought fuel leak. I was not that sure since fuel feed and return lines are on the other side of the engine and they look ok and are dry. I am moore thinking like this:

When engine is running cyl 4 (or 3) gets the fuel it should but does not ignite it. During  compression phase air/fuel mixture escapes the cylinder via the broken head gasket and ends up on the exh.manifold taking some oil with it. 

@Sparky, I don't have one, are they expensive?

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Torque times RPM equals horsepower!

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  • Gold FFM

A head set isn't too expensive.  But I think you need to do a lot of investigation before any stripdown.   Something doesn't add up here.

British Fart to Florida, Nude to New York, Dunce to Denmark, Numpty to Newfoundland.  And Shitfaced Silly Sod to Sweden.

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I was expecting to see a small oil leak from the cam tower, but there is a photo which appears to rule that out.

Henrik, if the oil were to leak from the oil way, into the cylinder then go out via the exhaust, I'd have expected the exhaust gasket seal to be good enough that any such residue is carried away into the rest of the manifold and appear as blue smoke when it burns from the hot gasses from the other cylinders. What is the plug like on no4? If it's not firing due to oil that plug should be soaked in oil on the whole of the ignition tip and ceramic shroud.

I'm wondering whether it's the seal (O-ring) on the cam carrier end cap, oil then creeps round the engine and meets the manifold, thins more (as it gets very hot)  and so starts spraying off with the air movement in that area.

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  • Gold FFM

Yup, that's the first place I'd look. It's amazing how much a leak can travel down that side.

British Fart to Florida, Nude to New York, Dunce to Denmark, Numpty to Newfoundland.  And Shitfaced Silly Sod to Sweden.

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I had the o-ring (that Andy speaks of above) blow out and indeed oil runs down the heat shield and onto the exhaust manifold as shown in the pictures.

I had a ton of smoke, I mean a lot of smoke, like call the fire department amount of smoke, but the car ran fine.  So the only way I could see the end cap o-ring being involved is if you have 2 separate problems.  Does the car smoke a bit out the engine bay vents (not the exhaust) when you start it up after a few days sitting?   

(I agree with others here that those compression numbers are fine, which to me seems to rule out a head gasket.)  

Sudden over fueling, enough to kill the engine ....maybe fuel pressure regulator?    

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15 minutes ago, Sparky said:

Yup, that's the first place I'd look. It's amazing how much a leak can travel down that side.

/\ This.

And it's also entirely possible to have sprung a leak from a fitting or pipe connection on the main fuel rail, maybe an injector, maybe the PRV, which would then tend to track around the back of the cylinder head between the head and the turbo heatshield, and drip down onto the exhaust manifold. Couple that with the cam tower oil leak that Sparky's mentioned from whichever bit of the cam tower you choose, and there you go.

Loss of fuel pressure causing engine to run rough, oil and fuel leak causing the rest.

Margate Exotics.

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It would be great if I didn't need to take the lump out. I will remove ch.cooler and turbo heat shield tonight and investigate further. I'll check spark plugs for oil. No smoke from car when running, not blue nor white.
Plan of action (feel free to add if you have any suggestions):
1. Crank engine with spark plugs in leads, fuel pump off and check for sparks. This will tell if ignition is the culprit for the stuttering engine.
2. Crank engine with spark plugs out but fuel pump on. Then check for leaks around injectors and fuel lines (and exhaust manifold) This will tell if fuel starvation is the culprit for the stuttering engine. (except for the pump itself).
     Is there an easy way to check the pump?
3. Remove ch.cooler and heat shield and inspect cam towers, gaskets and O-rings.

I am also thinking along the lines of multiple problems.

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Torque times RPM equals horsepower!

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AUTOBOTS UNITE!

We need a 1982 Chevy van producing blue smoke with serious rust problems and an 8 track. 

On a more serious note, I'd check the fuel rail and the lines connected to it. It might be something as simple as an injector that's popped out - I know some of the aftermarket ones are "short" and if they're not held at the stem with a clip they can pop out, perhaps far enough to cause a mess (although fuel evaporates rather quickly...)? 

To check fuel supply you can crank the engine with the rail free of the injector wells (maybe place a container underneath, check the spray pattern...). If you had a poor regulator wouldn't the fuel pump run on every turn of the key to ignition? 

I really really think it's going to turn out to be a simple fix!

Vanya Stanisavljevic '91 Esprit SE | '97 XK8

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The head gasket is entirely possible to change in the SE without removing the engine.  Tilting the engine or disconnecting the transmission is not required.  It is a bit back breaking though to lean over the side or sit in the boot, so it may be much easier to remove the engine, but then you need a hoist and an engine stand...

P1010001.JPG

 

IMG_4015.JPG

 

 

I assume the compression test was done on a cold engine?  if so then you may not have seen the leak, if the metal needs to expand to open the gap in the gasket.

I lost a head gasket on track, #4 belw into the coolant jacket.  There was no white smoke, but i lost over a gallon of coolant into the exhaust and the overflow.

 

If you have exhaust gasses in the coolant, then that is a sure sign!!!

You can use an exhaust gas test with a blue dye in a sniff tester to see if there are exhaust gasses in the coolant.

The fuel makes sense since the engine can't compress and burn the fuel, it is going out the exhaust as a fluid.  It looks like your manifold gaskets are leaking, so there's an easy path for the fuel.

 

 

Travis

Vulcan Grey 89SE

My Lotus Photo and Projects Album

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Quick report on this evening's investigation.

No fuel around injectors or fuel lines when cranked. Looks solid.
Fuel coming out of the spark plug holes, so pump is working even if I don't know at which pressure.
No oil coming out of the cam tower O-rings.

What Travis describes sounds much like what I experienced. Did not lose a gallon of coolant but roughly the content of the header tank. Car only ran for 20-30 seconds after the problem started though. No white smoke. Smell of fuel/exhast from header tank, when opened.
Compression test was done on cool engine, don't dare to start and run it to working temp. I also drained coolant as soon as I got home, thinking it was a bad thing if it found its way into crank house. The car might be stationary for a while now.
The magenta line in the pic below, is it where your rupture was Travis? It won't be evident on the outside then?
Hgasket02.JPG
Unburnt fuel leaking via the manifold gasket and desolving old oil and grime making it hit the exhaust manifold and the ground also sounds plausible.

I have tried to locate a retailer of the sniffer test here in Sweden but unsuccesfully so far. Found them on ebay but it will take a week to ten days to get it.
In order to remove the head with engine in situ, any good advice?

(edited, dubble posted)

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Torque times RPM equals horsepower!

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4 hours ago, Vulcan Grey said:

The head gasket is entirely possible to change in the SE without removing the engine.  Tilting the engine or disconnecting the transmission is not required.  It is a bit back breaking though to lean over the side or sit in the boot, so it may be much easier to remove the engine, but then you need a hoist and an engine stand...

 

 

 

Glad Travis corrected with above, when I typed I'd mixed up Excel and Esprit. 

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To remove the head, it is best to remove the boot floor, in order to get to the turbo nuts.  Makes it all much easier. 

  1. I remove exhaust
  2. remove boot floor
  3. remove left rear wheel and heat shield
  4. loosen charge cooler flop over out of the the way.
  5. remove spark plugs
  6. Turn motor to TDC
  7. remove vacuum pump
  8. remove heat shields near exhaust manifold
  9. drain coolant ( I use a vacuum system)
  10. remove turbo
  11. remove turbo heat shield
  12. loosen timing belt
  13. remove cams
  14. remove intake manifold
  15. remove exhaust manifold, un-bend the clips that prevent the nuts from spinning
  16. remove head.

DO NOT spin the motor, even by hand, after removing or loosening the head!!!  Unless you have installed cylinder liner clamps.

 

 

Travis

Vulcan Grey 89SE

My Lotus Photo and Projects Album

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Henrik, have your engine ever been serviced like a strip down, new gaskets etc? And what is the milage by now? And how often has the coolant been changed and what kind of coolant have been used?

Also, could you take the sparkplugs out and post a Picture of them?

Kind regards,

Jacques.

 

Nobody does it better - than Lotus ;)

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@Kim and Vanya, I like the idea of an active response team, helping Esprit owners in distress :lol:

Thanks Travis, a list like that is very helpful. Much cursing can be avoided doing things in the right order (there can still be some serious cursing involved though).

Here comes a pic of the spark plugs:
sparkp01.JPG
I've only owned the car for 11 months and I've changed coolant 3 times by now! Oil and oil filter twice. Timing belt twice. Previous service history pretty much unknown. I don't think the engine has been stripped since new.
Some 65 000 km on the clock.

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Torque times RPM equals horsepower!

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Once you're convinced your head gasket has actually failed, don't let the engine sit too long before you remove the head: The coolant won't do the internals any favours.

Margate Exotics.

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It does seem to indicate blowing between no4 and water jacket. With a turbocharged engine, while on boost you may not get as much white smoke as a NA car, because the low air pressure on the "suck" stroke isn't as low as the equivalent NA would have, so there's less opportunity for as much water to be pushed into the cylinder.

If you want to be sure, and don't have a gas sniff option, then is there a way to get high pressure air into your no 4 cylinder when the valves are closed? I have a dedicated tool but perhaps something that enables you to attach a compressor air pipe. If that then results in bubbles/air coming into the header tank than it's pretty much proven.

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