Wednesday, April 20, 2011

The Land-Rover Toyota conversion so far...

So, almost a week into getting the landy back on the road.

The inside is still a mess, but it is starting to look better. We had stripped off the dash to remove the Disco's original ECU. It's almost a whole carry bag og wire loom and computer. This we replaced with Dicktator ECU and gearbox control unit.

Fuel pump is also controlled off the Dicktator ECU, so we hunted down the line for that, and connected it up. Fuel lines are now correctly connected up.

We made a dual battery system with a huge battery that only kicks in when the car ignition is turned on to do the starting. Since this is an automatic transmission, getting stuck with a non-starting car in the bush is not a good thing to think about.

Engine is basically wired up, all injectors and coils working together. Well, almost. Only six of the eight pistons are firing, and we found some perished O-rings. Since the car had been standing so long, stuff like this is to be expected.

Gearbox is getting some lubricant now, it's a painfully slow process as it can only be filled through the dipstick tube.

The thermostat did trip us up a little, as I expected the Thermostat to be the exit for hot water from the engine, and built the hoses for the radiator accordingly. To my surprise when we started the engine, water came out of where I thought the inlet was going to be.

So, I had to re-route the water. Interestingly, there is not quite enough space in front of the engine for a radiator viscous fan, so we put two slimline fans on there. We still need to go do some testing and see whether this will be enough to keep the engine cool, or whether we will be moving the entire engine back to accomodate a viscous fan. Anyways, getting the fans to kick in we need a fan switch, so I made a fitting for that out of stainless steel. The stuff actually welds pretty nicely... if only it was not so very expensive!

I am still stuck with a gearbox from a Prado in there... Hopefully I will be getting the 2H transmission delivered while I am at sea, and fit it pretty quick when I get home. I should also have a little more funds to see this project through.

My advice for anyone attempting to build a Lexus V8 in to any car.... make sure you have ALL the parts laid out before stripping apart a perfectly working car... And this goes double when the car in question is an automatic transmission.....

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

The neverending car saga....

Well, our Land Rover is been out of action for more than a year now. I thought that changing the engine in it would be relatively easy, at first. So, January last year we gave it to the mechanics for them to work their magic. Straight off the bat we ran into trouble, as the business in South Africa we contracted to manufacture the adapter between the automatic Lexus gearbox and the Discovery's transfer case just did not deliver the part.

Six months later, after many deliberations, we decided to sue, and try getting the Land Rover going in a different way. We decided to go all Toyota, for the gearbox and transfer, and then just do the conversion in the prop shafts. It's just something round that can be cut and welded, right?

First order of business was to locate a 4x4 automatic gearbox. We found one from a Prado, and promptly bought it for N$10,000. Once we were looking at this gearbox on the workshop floor, though, a small detail became apparent. The drive for the front wheels is on the wrong side! We thought about flipping the front diff upside down, and actually built it out before deciding that it was a bad idea and bolting it back in.

Then we decided that we were just going to use the transfer case from a Toyota Hilux. I finally managed to get my grubbies on one, but it turned out not to fit.

Pretty much fed up with the whole thing, I decided to speak to the experts in South Africa, and find something that will bolt on to my Lexus engine. The friendly guys suggested the gearbox from the Land Cruiser 2H. It was relatively cheap, too. N$8500 later my gearbox was on it's way from South Africa.

This should have a happy ending, right? And that happy ending should be about now, right? Nah, I'm not that lucky, and it looks like the entire Universe is conspiring against us putting a Toyota engine in to a Land Rover. The gearbox that arrived was a manual Land Cruiser VX gearbox. There was no chance of me using it, and currently we are trying to swap the gearboxes so that I get the proper part.

At least the guys at Japan Auto in JHB are being really nice about this screw-up.

Pieter finished the engine installation, and delivered the Landy with the Prado gearbox last week. We still need to wire up the engine, and then build an exhaust system. Once this is done, I'll be driving around in 2x4 mode until the proper gearbox gets here and then we can build the front prop shaft. Yay!

Towards the end of last year the Jetta started giving us hassles too. So, a couple of weeks before Christmas, I gave it to Newton to get a new top gasket. Once we opened the engine, we realized that we are going to need new top bolts, as my old ones were stretched and mismatching. Also, one engine mounting was faulty, and I put on another air intake too.

So, I order the parts, and go back to work. Isolde was about seven and a half months pregnant at this time. So, Chrismas happened, while we wait on parts. Turns out that my timing pulley on the crank was broken again, and this part needs to be especially manufactured for my very rare Jetta. Then my mechanic's wife has a baby. Finally, he is able to sort the car out just a week before I get back. On the test drive, however, the engine threw a bearing, and back to the workshop it went.

I got home to an eight and a bit month pregnant wife and the only working car I got is the Yellow Range Rover from the 1980's that has been converted into a competition off-road vehicle. So, it's got no windows, terrible handling on the road and the fuel economy is shot, too.

We had to do something drastic.

I bought my wife the Ford Figo, brand new out of the box. It's a nice little car with ABS and airbags, and a great fuel economy. More importantly, it starts easily in the mornings.

Then Aiden was born. The first month after his birth we were still patiently waiting for the cars to be finished up. The Jetta was running first, with basically a whole new engine and CV joints. Unfortunately her air conditioning unit broke, and so she is currently at another set of mechanics to get that sorted.

So, finally, today Newton will be looking to wire up the Land Rover, and in my eternal optimism I have already booked the Land Rover to have an exhaust fitted on Friday. School holidays start on Thursday, so hopefully we will be able to fit in exactly one camp in the Land Rover before I have to go back to work.