19/01/15 – One step forward…two steps backward!

Well, the 1480cc engine build concluded long ago, but a lot has happened since!

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The engine was fitted and run-in, with my first experience of driving it leaving me absolutely speechless and with a big smug grin on my face! The torque, the power delivery, the sound!

Next step was to bring the car to Martin Treacy at Westward Engineering for a rolling-road tune. Despite a misbehaving ignition that would not let the car rev past 6200rpm, the figures were looking very promising with another visit required when the ignition issue was sorted.

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Fast forward a month and the ignition is spot on and the engine is running great. Almost. It seemed that gradually over time the engine was becoming more and more difficult to start when cold. Believing that the engine may not have been spinning over fast enough, due to the high compression ratio, we fitted a brand new race battery and Brise starter motor. This seemed to help slightly but there was still something not quite right. In the meantime, I brought the car to a few local meetings to show off and pencilled in a time to get the car back to Martin.

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Everything was looking on schedule to be ready for a few races with the HRCA in 2015 until an fortunate/unfortunate discovery was made however. While giving the engine a routine service (oil, oil filter, spark plugs, valve clearances etc), in preparation for its next rolling road outing, an inspection of the cylinders and bores revealed that pistons 1 and 4 had severe damage to them and were missing some material on the outer most edge. A compression test revealed that cylinders 2 and 3 were producing 175psi with 1 and 4 producing a mere 50psi.  Not good!

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So, the engine came out and the following evening we stripped the complete unit down to diagnose the problem and assess the damage.

– 2 scrapped pistons

– 1 scrapped cam

– 1 Cometic head gasket

Not bad at all considering it appeared that the damage caused seemed to have occurred before the initial rolling road session. Omega, who manufactured the pistons concluded that there was excessive surface temperature on the pistons, caused by incorrect fuelling and running lean. This most likely happened while doing some demonstration laps at The Spirit of Dunboyne event in which the car was entered a few days prior to the rolling road session. Lesson learned!

Money and time aside, trying to actually source a new set of pistons is proving challenging, but hopefully there will be some progress on this in the coming weeks.

In the mean time, I have sourced a standard A+ 1275 engine which has just been installed so I can use the car on the road for a while. Every cloud and all that!

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