Sep 192013

It has only been just under a month since the rear suspension was put in, in which time the weather has started to turn, with leaves falling and a persistent dampness on the ground. The hope was to recruit John and Martin again to put the engine back in and set up the front suspension. However doubts started to creep in whether a leave of absence would be forthcoming from their higher authorities.

Still we pencilled in the last weekend in September for the engine install just in case permission was granted! It was the last free weekend before the clocks change but the problem would be if the weather wasn’t favourable on the day. The next available weekend would not be until early December.

I decided it might be better to go it alone earlier, on the next fine day, but keeping the September weekend as a reserve. So the BBC weather forecasts were monitored for a suitable, sunny day. A whole day with only light cloud cover and sunny spells was forecast, so last minute arrangements were made to have a days leave to finally install the engine and front suspension.

The original plan was to remove the front ‘picture frame’ and simply wheel the engine into place and then refit the frame behind it. I should know by now that nothing is ‘simple’ when rebuilding an E-Type! As the rear suspension had taken all day and we’d run out of time, the revised plan was to install the engine from below. The same way it had been removed.

At least this time, the engine was on a low trolley so the front of car wouldn’t have to be raised quite as much to gain the necessary clearance. The positioning of the engine within the frames went without a hitch and the trolley castors made fine adjustments in its position a breeze.

Although there was almost a numpty moment as the engine was being rolled into position – it generally helps to have the propshaft fitted before the engine goes in!!

The car was then lowered until the front fulcrum mounts could be supported on axle stands, enabling the lifting frame to be moved and redeployed to lift the engine on to its mounts. The clearances around the bellhousing are quite small, especially round the torsion bar mounting points, so the lowering progressed very slowly to ensure the paintwork wasn’t damaged.

Lifting the engine was an equally slow process for the same reason. It was also very marginal whether the lifting frame would have sufficient height due to generous length of the lift strop. Fortunately there was, but only by a centimetre. It would have been possible to shorten it by putting a knot in but I suspect it wouldn’t have come undone once the full weight of the engine had pulled it tight.

The gearbox mounting bracket and damping spring, which sits in two rubber mouldingsI had wrongly assumed that once the mounting brackets had been fitted to the engine, the weight would naturally align their bolt holes with the engine mounts fixed to the frames. After a considerable struggle, not dissimilar to the fitting of the rear suspension, everything was lined up and the front engine mounts could be secured.

A strong spring sits between the gearbox and the rear mounting bracket to dampen the vibrations of the engine. Fortunately is was only a matter of jacking up the bracket to compress the spring sufficiently to get the bolts in place. Although some care was taken to make sure the spring was located centrally on the trolley jack.

There’s very little room to get in to fix the engine stabiliser so it’s a fiddly jobI thought it would be easier to fit the central engine stabiliser once the engine was in place, as it’s one thing less to keep an eye on when the engine is lifted. It’s was fiddly job as there’s very little room between the engine and the bulkhead to get your fingers in. I think I’d prefit it next time.

Once again the progress was considerably slower than hoped although this was partly due to the accuracy of BBC weather forecasting – light drizzle and grey skies were the order of the day. As dusk approached, the installation of the torsion bars was abandoned for now.

The radiator and cooling fans had already been built up so these were quickly bolted on before the bonnet was refitted. It was time to wheel it inside and head off to the pub for a celebratory meal …. so it wasn’t the best time to find out that the bonnet no longer closed. Something was stopping it about 2 inches short of the landing rubber.

It wasn’t a solid contact you’d get between two hard objects. It was more springy. Some of the wiring looms still had to be re-routed so these were moved well out of the way. Still no joy. The problem is that is almost impossible to see into the engine space when the bonnet is almost full closed.

It can only be one of two things as the engine and radiator were the only items fitted but at the moment I’m stumped. Some padding has been inserted between the bonnet and bulkhead until I can it work out!!