Diving deep / Running Reports
It seems 2019 is my year to do engine rebuilds. First it was the Alfa Duetto that needed open-heart surgery just before its trip to this year’s Mille Miglia ; then my boat’s engine blew up (an 800bhp, 14.9-litre MAN twin-turbo V8 – don’t ask about the bill); and this month it’s the turn of my Espada engine to be stripped.
An engine rebuild has been on the to-do list for the Espada ever since it developed a serious addiction to coolant on last year’s Espada 50th Anniversary Tour, but then the budget I’d set aside got inadvertently spent on a Lancia Fulvia Sport 1600 – easily done, as I’m sure you’ll understand – so I put the rebuild off until more funds became available.
But as the months ticked by, I became increasingly concerned that the wait might be causing more internal damage to the engine, as I didn’t really know why it was consuming so much coolant in the first place. There was no give-away steaming exhaust, or emulsion inside the filler cap to indicate that oil and water were mixing. I needed to know more, so decided to get the Espada up to Iain Tyrrell’s amazing workshop on the outskirts of Chester, which is where I bought the Espada from originally, back in 2012.
Once it arrived, Iain turned detective and performed both a compression and leak-down test on each cylinder, plus a pressure test on the coolant system. The good news was that the pressure test showed the coolant wasn’t leaking anywhere it shouldn’t, but both the compression test and the leak-down test (where each cylinder is pressurised via the spark-plug hole) showed several pots were below par and losing pressure under test quite quickly.
The diagnosis was possible headgasket failure and maybe worn piston rings as well. There was nothing for it but to remove the engine for a full strip to find out. This generation of Lamborghini engine is magnificent to behold, with its quad cam-covers, tubular manifolds, all-alloy construction and delicately finned aluminium sump. It’s also a bitch to extract from the engine bay because a) the front oil pump housing hits the front chassis member, and b) the gearbox needs to stay attached, and that includes the chromed gear-lever that constantly gets fouled on the transmission tunnel. Fortunately, Iain has been doing this for over 35 years and makes it look relatively easy. About three hours later he had the engine out, on the bench and ready to strip. Next month, I’ll let you know what we found.
From top Harry’s Espada rests up during the 50th Anniversary tour in 2018; at speed, in between top-ups with coolant; engine out for stripdown at Iain Tyrrell’s workshop.