Part eight: Hav­ing painstak­ingly re­built our In­signia’s seized en­gine, have all of our ef­forts proved worth­while?

PART EIGHT: Rob Hawkins crosses his fin­gers in the hope that the In­signia en­gine will be up and run­ning.

Car Mechanics (UK) - - Contents -

We’ve had our fair share of prob­lems with our In­signia, so it was a sur­prise when we asked a spe­cial­ist to strip the gear­box and they found noth­ing wrong with it. There was no ex­ces­sive wear and no traces of leaks. In a strange sort of twist, with a mag­a­zine’s project car prob­lems are wel­come be­cause they make for good ed­i­to­rial. How­ever, the healthy gear­box was per­haps a bless­ing, be­cause – as you’ll see over the fol­low­ing pages – there were yet more prob­lems with the en­gine that were set to st­ing us.

We thought we had been suf­fi­ciently cau­tious. We even sent the in­jec­tors for test­ing and had one of them re­paired, then re­newed the clutch and dual mass fly­wheel (DMF), and fit­ted a new Klar­ius diesel par­tic­u­late fil­ter (DPF) in­stead of the il­le­gally mod­i­fied unit that had been fit­ted by some­one else!

Low­er­ing the en­gine back into the In­signia, we were keen to hear it run. So once it was suf­fi­ciently con­nected up, we dipped the clutch and pressed the start but­ton. The en­gine turned a few times, then stopped. A few more at­tempts saw no move­ment and even­tu­ally a whiff of smoke ap­peared from around the starter mo­tor. The en­gine had nipped up, as though a bear­ing had come loose.

En­gine out again

Watch­ing the me­chan­ics at MJ Mo­tors work through the prob­lem of the locked en­gine would serve as an ar­ti­cle in it­self. We dis­cussed the pos­si­bil­ity of the starter mo­tor be­ing to blame, but re­alised there wasn’t much we could do with­out re­mov­ing the en­gine and gear­box from the car again. So that’s what we did.

With the en­gine re­moved, the gear­box was un­bolted to see if this was the prob­lem (highly un­likely, be­cause the clutch has to be de­pressed to start the en­gine) and to fur­ther in­spect the dual mass fly­wheel. No prob­lems were found; the crankshaft could only move back and forth by a few de­grees.

Next, we re­moved the sump and ini­tially sus­pected the skirts of the pis­tons were foul­ing the crankshaft webs, but this was dis­missed once we squeezed our fin­gers into po­si­tion and found there was suf­fi­cient space. The tim­ing belt was de­tached, in case there was an is­sue with the camshafts, but the crankshaft still re­fused to budge more than a few de­grees.

We didn’t ex­pect there to be any prob­lems with the main and big end bear­ing caps, es­pe­cially after check­ing their play us­ing Plasti­gauge, but we nev­er­the­less re­moved them and found the crankshaft was still stuck.

Fi­nally, we ex­tracted the thrust bear­ings and dis­cov­ered the cause of the prob­lem. One of the thrust bear­ings was dam­aged and, un­for­tu­nately, we had fit­ted it the wrong way round. We’re only hu­man and mis­takes oc­ca­sion­ally hap­pen. Luck­ily, the crankshaft had sur­vived and a new set of thrust bear­ings was fit­ted. This time, the en­gine ro­tated freely and, once in­stalled, fired up and ran.

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