• Victory... then defeat

    CAR #1971-Reliant-Scimitar-SE5 / #Reliant-Scimitar-SE5 / #Reliant-Scimitar / #Reliant / #1971

    Owned by Nigel Boothman (nigel.boothman@drive-my.com)
    Time owned Four years
    Miles this month 250
    Costs this month £325

    Previously Tried to get the car going. Failed.

    A sticky starter motor foiled me at the end of the last report, but with that removed, tested and replaced (having found nothing amiss) the car had no excuses left. Time to start that rebuilt engine.

    At this point I thought of all that money I’d handed to the engine builder back in 2015 and of the two years the engine had remained stationary, bar periodic rotations by hand to make sure everything still moved. So I felt the first start and subsequent break-in should be performed in the presence of someone who’d done such things before.

    Luckily I knew Leroy Grimwood, of Dunedin Performance Centre, Edinburgh. With the car transported across town, we gave it a fill of Miller’s running-in oil, span the oil pump drive with an electric drill, fitted the distributor and turned the key.

    The engine burst into life, and continued to roar strongly for the 15 or so minutes deemed adequate to break in all those internal surfaces. With finer timing adjustment and some help from Leroy to make sure the brakes and lights were MoT-worthy, the Scimitar passed its first test in three years.

    All was not well, however. A serious running fault developed as soon as the engine was up to temperature, or if it was parked after a short run and left for a few minutes. Convinced it was fuel vaporisation, I spent hours moving fuel pipes, even re-employing the mechanical pump I’d bypassed when an electric one was fitted. Still no joy.

    I gave up and took the car for analysis on a Krypton machine at the Car Tuning Clinic at Holyrood, where the intermittent death of the HT voltage was discovered. And sure enough, my fuelling problem was electrical – the little electronic ignition unit in my freshly-rebuilt distributor was expiring when it got warm. With points and condenser re-fitted, it ran fine.

    Well… it ran fine when we gave it 20o of ignition advance, though it was supposed to need only 12o to 14o. I was sure the TDC mark was accurate, but I needed some confidence for a 1000-mile ‘running in’ round trip to the Goodwood Revival. With the possibility of some unknown fault hanging over it just two days before the event, I had to take a view. And that view involved my 1991 VW Westfalia camper.

    VW camper van stands ready in the unlikely event of Scimitar failure. 3.0-litre #V6 runs, but needs 20º ignition advance.