Engine Donor

14 September 2008

The first thing I need to do is to obtain an engine and gearbox, mate them together, and ship the lot down to Dax so that they can build a chassis to match. So my first priority is the engine.

After looking around for a bit, I'd decided that it was going to be cheaper to buy a whole car and take the engine out, rather than sourcing an engine from a scrappy. Plus, it would mean that I would definately get all of the ancilliaries rather than just a bare engine. The most likely donor seemed to be an Alfa 164 of mid-ninetees vintage, which were cheap if not very common.

After a number of weeks of looking, a suitable donor car finally came up on eBay. The mileage is a little higher than I was hoping for, at 140,000, but the price was right and my october deadline is fast aproaching - I can't afford another month of looking. So I bid, and as luck would have it, nobody else did, so I got it for a snip at 450.

The car itself is a 164 3.0 v6 24v Super (that's a lot of acronyms), with a nominal 210bhp. In very good condition for it's age, it seems a shame to break it...but a whole new life awaits, at least for some of it.

Partly so I could see if the v6 in the flesh matched up to its reputation, but mostly just for fun, we took it for a hoon on sunday evening. I think I can safely say that the engine is everything I'd hoped for - revvy, lively, and sounds glorious. It'll pull easy from 1000rpm, but come 4500 it just comes alive. The low burble changes into a musical, racey howl, and it accelerates without seeming to slow until you hit the rev limiter at 7 and-a-bit thousand. The only downside is that you want to drive everywhere in 2nd or 3rd just to hear it!

After an hour or so's hard use, the car did start to show its age. Mostly by smelling as if it was on fire. Although it still drove fine, I did get the impression that a few more thrashings would finish it off. So I don't feel so bad about breaking it now.

A couple of photos of the car on its last journey:


So tonight, after it had cooled down, I drained the coolant and moved it into the garage...it's a tight fit, but just goes in. Didn't have a lot of time tonight, so I just took the bonnet off, and got the expansion tank and part of the induction system off.


I've also ordered an engine hoist which should arrive by the time I've stripped everything down, and a workshop manual.

15 September 2008

Had a few more hours on it tonight. It's obviously not going to be a quick job, I'm trying to be quite methodical about it rather than just cutting things out. In a year's time, I'm going to be trying to put this all back together, and I don't want to be wondering what went where, especially on the electrical side of things. So I'm labelling everything I disconnect with little tags, which takes time of course, but should help me later. I'm also taking lots of pictures, so I can see where things were, which should help if I have to refer back to the manual. (below, left)

There was a fair bit of oil and grime in the airflow sensor and trunking leading to the plenum - but I expect that this is what 140,000 miles does for you. I don't think it's enough to mean that anything's leaking, probably just fall out from the breather hose. (right)


The wiring's the main difficulty, largely because it's all stuffed through the bulkhead behind the engine and it's hard to see what's going on. I haven't actually found the ECU yet, I suspect it might be inside the car - hopefully all will become clear when I have the workshop manual.

Apart from that, I jacked the car up got it on stands ready to drain the oil - I need to buy a 12mm allen key tommorow for the sump plug. Not a bad few hours work though.

17 September 2008

Took delivery of the engine crane today, looks as if that will take an evening to assemble, so I'm leaving it until I'm ready to use it...which isn't yet.

I've so far drained the oil (using a neighbour's allen key, as the "universal" drain plug key I bought didn't fit), removed the radiator and aircon heat exchanger, drained the brake system, removed the scuttle panel and inner wing guards, and disconnected the fuel pipes. There's a lot more space in the engine bay now, but still lots more to remove (left). The right-hand pic shows the scuttle panel partly removed - this was a pig, as things were clipped to it / went through it, right down behind the engine.


I've blanked off the fuel lines with short lengths of pipe with two old bolts screwed into them - there's no fuel in there, but I don't want any rubbish getting in there whilst the engine is standing around (below left, centre of the pic). The exhaust manifold is nice, tubular, although unequal length - I wonder how much that effects performance, and how much I stand to gain with an equal-length set up? I've disconnected the front one, but the bolt heads on the rear are completely knackered and rather inaccesible. I'll worry about that later...


As I've been crawling around under the car, I'm more and more of the opinion that it wouldn't have lasted for too much longer anyway. The brake lines are rusting through, as is the chassis in some places.

Next job is to disconnect the driveshafts from the diff, which will no doubt be a tricky one. The control rod from the gearlever is also looking rather awkward to get at. And it looks like I'm going to have to strip down the dashboard to get at the ecu and associated wiring. Then there's those exhaust bolts to deal with...

18 September 2008

Thought I'd make a start on stripping the dash tonight, which is not something I was looking forwards to. The problem is always finding where the hidden clips/screws are - in my (albeit limited) experience, you tend to find them after you've run out of patience and levered it off with a big screwdriver!

Anyway, being extra careful, I managed to get the instrument panel and console out without having to break anything - I know it doesn't matter but I thought I'd be disciplined about it. Alas, what I uncovered is that the screws holding the dashboard proper onto the body of the car are right up under the windscreen (you can see one in the right hand pic below).


So I guess they must bolt it all in, then fit the screen afterwards. I'm going to have a bit of an ask around, and see if there's any alternative to taking the windscreen out before I start down that road. The other thing is the sheer quantity of wires...it's going to be fun picking through it all trying to work out which half dozen the ecu actually needs to run the engine. It's enough to make you go back to carbs...

The manual I'd ordered also arrived, but alas is not really much use - no instructions or diagrams of anything mechanical, just service schedules and the odd wiring diagram. A shame but never mind, I'll have to stick to educated guessing as usual.

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