Sunday, May 17, 2015

Front Plate and Timing Decisions

<This post is part of the 'Winter Project 2014/15 - New Engine Rebuild' project>
In the post Putting The Gearbox On , I loosely attached the front plate to stop the half moon seal bulging out when the gearbox squashed it into place. Now that all the RTV on the gearbox and seals has properly cured, it's time to attach the front plate permanently and also decide once and for all, what type of timing drive I'm going to use.

Front Plate


But first of all, let's get that boring old front plate looking a little nicer...

Painting the Front Plate
At the time of painting I was still undecided what type of timing cover I was going to use so I thought it best to use the smaller of the two as a template for the paint. That way, I would be able to use either the smaller timing belt cover or the larger chain drive cover without any further painting at a later date.

Looking back though, I don't know why I just didn't paint the whole thing! At the time I was worried that it would be a problem to gasket over some paint. In hindsight, I can't imagine it is, but anyway, this is what I did at the time...

Using the timing belt cover,  I wanted to make sure I only painted the parts that would be seen and not paint over the gasket surfaces,

Paint here...

...and here.

So to achieve this I used some masking tape and bolted the plate in place. Then drew with a pencil around the timing cover on the front and around the engine block at the back to give a definitive line to paint up to.




Once cut and fully masked, it was ready to be painted...


... 4 coats of Hammerite Smooth later and...



... after a few days of work, it looked like this.



And it seems to match up really well.

From the front.

And the back...

... other side
Attaching the front plate
Now I have a nicely painted front plate, it's time to attach it to the engine, so the first thing to do is to make sure all the gasket faces are clean and grease free, then use a thin smear of RTV on the gasket and offer it up to it's place on the side of the block. It's pretty easy to locate as the holes in the gasket line up with those in the engine block, also the RTV hold it where it needs to be. The trick bit is not using too much RTV and getting it on the gasket and nowhere else.


Once the RTV is free from the tube, the race is on to get it in place before it cures, so lifting the front plate into place, I attached the two lower bolts and the three around the end of the cam.


This was all fine and dandy, however, it wasn't compressing the gasket evenly as there were another six bolt holes to fill. In my haste I forgot about this and found myself scrambling to find some suitable bolts to do the job. Thankfully, I managed to grab a few before the RTV had cured.



Belt or Chain?
Oh, err missus, sounds a bit kinky!, but alas it's the far more mundane task of deciding what I am going to use to drive the timing. Back in this post, I bought a second hand timing kit on the cheap and restored it back to a useful state.



Test fitting it, it looked great and I was all for using it until I found that getting a replacement belt was rather an arduous task. After trying several of the large name mini shops and a few smaller ones, I found that they were a little hard to come by. I also found out that they need changing every 30,000 miles or so, although this is quite a long time, the chains last far, far longer. So the thought of using a belt seems less and less of a draw.

With the belt option out, that leaves the chain as the winner, however there is a choice to be made here also. Do I go for the single chain, or the double chain?  Why is it always so difficult? Each has their own merits and drawbacks: the single chain is quieter and cheaper, however is less strong and more prone to stretching over time. The double chain is stronger, resists stretching, but is more expensive and is a bit more rattly and may require the need to alter the chain housing cover to accommodate it's larger size, i.e. more work!

Looking at what I want the engine to do though, the answer became simple. As it's not a race engine, nor am I looking to enhance it's performance beyond Stage 1 kit, I'm going for the 'Keep It Simple Stupid' approach and getting the single chain option.

Now that's sorted, I looked at the gears and chains I already had to work out what can be reused and what is too far gone. The smaller gear that sits on the crank looked to be in fairly good nick, so can be reused, however the larger gear had worn down quite a bit and would need replacing.

Replacing the chain is a no brainer, you just do it as it's such a cheap item it would be crazy not to when you are at this stage. Again though, there is more choice and a decision has to be made between a standard £4ish item or a super duper 'special quality' one for £20ish. For me the choice was easy as the super duper one was out of stock when I went, so the cheapo standard one it is.

Thankfully there are no such options available when buying the large single gear. There was one available and this was it...




Timing Case
Now that I have decided what to go with, it leaves me with the problem of having to use a standard timing cover rather than the snazzy looking alloy one that the belt sat in. Why is this a problem, well because they all currently look like this...



This leaves me the job of picking one and making it look fantastic again. No mean feat I'll tell you are they are all caked with mankyness and will need stripping right back to bear metal before they can be repainted.

After a game of 'eeny meeny miny moe', I took the selected cover to the 'man cave' for some serious work. I started by hitting it with a wire brush on a drill...


... which was going quite well, although was taking ages and was quite hard work. Plus getting the brush into all those nooks and crannies was going to be impossible, so I soaked it in some vinegar in the hope that it will do the job for me.



And there it will sit for a few days, or at least until I've had chance to sort the timing out anyway. To do that though, I need the help of a Dial Test Indicator, which is on order. This kind of leaves me twiddling my thumbs a bit, except through, there are those two knackered distributors that need looking at...



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