Despite Everything You Know To Be True…

….. you’re almost duty bound to give the snake oil a go because what the commercial outfits don’t seem to mention after the bit about the process of heating up the block to some fantastic temperature; the few words about the specialist welding and finally how the block is carefully cooled under controlled conditions and the repair is guaranteed and blah blah fish cakes is, that because of the heating and cooling and general excitement, you often end up with a block like a banana that needs extensive re-machining at further fabulous cost.


I had a few moments with the Punto letters at work in Norfolk which helped me formulate a plan….

Stripped block

For pressure testing, all the stuff has to come out of the block. This gives you the chance to have a look at mains and big-ends, the pistons and the bores. I have to say that they all look rather good but the micrometer will have the last word.


None of the rings were seized and there’s no bluing or signs of wear on the shells. Of course, there’s nothing here which wouldn’t benefit from a good clean up but my first priority is to get the block down to our local engine man to have it cleaned and pressure tested. I’ve just got the 20 cylinder head studs to remove.


The crank looks good but I forgot to do the ring test – the next job before trying to remember how to read a micrometer. I mentioned that the other day, Awkward put his head round the door and asked why I was wasting my time trying to repair the first block with the snake oil. Well, as he’s a bit of a whizz in the electrics game, I couldn’t help but notice him shudder when glancing at my wiring efforts. He very politely suggested that some tidying up in this area might not go amiss so, whilst I was stripping the block, he re-crimped all my connections and, what’s more, put them where they should have gone in the first place. And the reason that the rev counter didn’t work – it’s so embarrassing – was that, a) I had a positive feed to both ends of the induction loop and, b) there was no fuse in the bit where the fuse goes (probably a good thing). It was discovered also that if Miss X’s courtesy light fuse blew, the car would roll gently to a halt. Happily, no such arrangement now exists.

I’ve ditched the aluminium turtle deck – the most difficult part of the bodywork – because, although I can get it almost right, I lack the experience and the tools to lose the bit that keeps pinging out when I pull the metal round the third radius. It’s something I’ll address at my leisure but frankly, I just haven’t got the time to mess about anymore so I’m going to do that bit in ply and if I scarf the seams and add a bit of pudding, nobody will ever know.

So, despite everything, there’s progress.


3 comments on “Despite Everything You Know To Be True…

  1. asciimation says:

    The thing with the aluminium is you’re trying to fit a flat sheet to a complex curved surface and you can’t do that with just simple bends in the aluminium. You need to start stretching and shrinking it to get the compound curves and that’s the tricky bit! What you can do though is fake it somewhat buy using conical sections which is just simple curve.What happened to the English Wheel you were going to use?

    Mine has gone a bit wrong where it’s wrapped around the tubes of the cockpit since the shape of the aluminium skin didn’t quite match the shape of the tubes (should have done a wired edge!) so I have had to do lots of shaping there to get things to meet up. The whole skin has shape though so I can get away with it. It’s just more curves on top of curves and shouldn’t look too bad (from a distance, in the dark, squinting…).


    • Hello Simon, I thought about faking it with sections after I realised that I didn’t have time to hammer the whole thing out and then I knew I’d be wasting a lot more time getting it wrong on the wheel having not used one before. With the engine problems I’m suddenly squeezed – only about 12 weeks to get the car finished – so I just fell back on what I know I can do.

  2. asciimation says:

    Funny how the time disappears! I realised I spent almost exactly a year working on the skin on mine. That’s a long time to be hammering one bit of aluminium! I think yours look fine with a wooden covering anyway.That will suit the car completely.

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