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CalCol

Orange no more...

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Maybe the bearing of the shaft in the distributor is worn and the shaft doesn't turn exactly in the centre,

so there is a gap between the rotor and the contact(of the distributorcap) and that can give several sparks...

Or it is just the rotor that is not tight on the shaft?

 

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That's a good guess Herman and could have given the effect I saw. I actually did take the distributor cap off and check everything, just to make sure, so we were thinking along the same lines.

The distributor was actually a new one (picked three of them up for 25€ each a few years back) so the bearing was tight and new and the rotor was seated correctly, so that wasn't the issue in this case, though.

Cheers,
Nick

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I brought a new distributor a few years back but strangely the vane inside had five cutouts instead of four! Spotted it before fitting so don't know how it would have ran. Swapped it over from the old one and all was well. Same problem?

Great build by the way.

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:-) Thanks

Wow, that one would have taken me a while to find too. I've had the pin pop out of the vane before and so it just spun round at a different rate to the engine - that took a few hours to work out.

Not the problem in this case, I'm afraid. The distributor is completely empty in the 2.4, all it does is distribute the spark (so it has a rotor arm), there's no triggering from it - the crank sensor replaces the vane. I actually wish it didn't have the distributor and went for a DIS pack instead, but I guess it would have been too expensive to engineer for such a low volume engine.

Cheers,
Nick

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Well, the Manta purrs like a kitten now (well, a 1990’s clattery injector kitten anyway) and the problem turned out to have been quite a dumb move on my part. You knew it would be, right?

The clue was the RPM signal. I went and re-checked each lead and got the following:

1,4        Showing 1200-1300
2,3        Showing correct rpm signal

I moved the distributor around about 30 degrees and got this:

1,4        Showing correct rpm signal
2,3        Showing 1200-1300

So this set the alarm bells ringing. Why would I be getting more RPM on two of the four and the correct RPM on the other two?

Bingo.

If I was using an ECU for a 6-cylinder car I’d be getting 6 pulses per rotation instead of two. Two of them would be on target at 1 and 4, for example, and then the other two pulses would fire either side of TDC on cylinders 2 and 3, giving me more pulses on the ignition wire and a nice misfire on those two cylinders. I wonder…

I looked up the ECU ident for a C24NE engine and it’s GJ. I pulled out the lower parcel shelf and right side kick panel, and there on the ECU was GK. Doh. What’s GK? C30NE of course! Yup, it was a spare ECU from Jo's Monza that I'd grabbed from stock when I was fitting the wiring looms in order to get the wiring routed correctly.

I have a few spare C24NE ECUs so I got one and plugged it in. After about 30 seconds it was purring nicely.

Here are two videos:
1.    Engine running – https://youtu.be/9r8P1-VRVXE – you can see the stable 800-850 idle on the meter, the instruments agreeing (nice oil pressure too) and the lack of misfire from the exhaust. I have modified the dash lights so that the green indicator light is used for both indicators and hazards and the hazard light is used as a check engine light. I have the ECU in diagnostic mode and you can see it's flashing only 12 (flash, pause, flash, flash, pause) – start of test – no other codes.

2.    Stable vacuum – https://youtu.be/3BBZZppnfzY I actually made it a little better by closing up that mechanical idle adjustment on the bottom of the throttle body, it’s now showing a solid 16”Hg, which is a lot more like it.

There was plenty to do to get the injection back together properly, but I felt like I'd earned a beer so I went off for one to celebrate!


Tidying up meant getting back to where I was a couple of weeks previously when I'd first started the car, namely:

  • Reconnect the EGR pipes / hoses (left unconnected while I tried to zero in on the problem)
  • Install heat shield between the manifolds (I'd modified the 2.2 manifold to take the C24NE heat shield between the manifolds, quite a squeeze with the EGR)
  • Torque the intake manifold (had to take it off to get the injectors out)
  • Tighten the water hoses (they'd been apart to get the intake manifold out)
  • Refit the (correct!) ECU to the right side A-pillar, refit trim around it          
  • Dump the oil and replace oil and filter.

And then check for leaks! I had both oil and water leaks at various points while the engine’s been running so I needed to make sure I’d found them all.

The water system was using Dexcool (the pink long-life stuff) and I used my pressure tester to see how well it held. I pumped it up to 18psi (1.2 bar) and it seemed to hold well, although there was a very slight leak in the thermostat housing at the temperature gauge sender, probably needed a little tightening. Well yes it did, but that reduced the rate to one drip every 15 minutes (at 18psi) and I didn't want to tighten it any further as Opel just uses cheap "pot metal" castings for things like the thermostat housing and they crack as soon as look at you.

Now since this is a used sender that was on the orange Manta it might be that there’s a knick in the thread on the sender and that’s what was leaking (so a new sender would fix that) but it might also be a knick in the housing so even pulling the injection apart to replace the sender might not fix it.

My usual leak avoidance technique is plumber’s tape and I use it wherever I can. I even have the sort for sealing gas/air pipes and the sort for water pipes. But in this case, since the sender earths through the thermostat housing, I didn’t want to do that. My choices were limited.

When I built my first engine over here (actually this engine, two rebuilds ago) Dan the engine shop man recommended using 1/2 or 1 AC Delco "stop leak" tablet in the cooling system in case any of the freeze plugs leaked after the car was back together. He said he rarely had that problem, but the tablet was great insurance as they were a pain to fix once the car was back together. Apparently GM used to use them at the factory! I’ve used them ever since.

However, since we didn’t pull the freeze plugs this time (and I’d run out of the tablets) I didn’t bother. I ordered some and put 1/4 tablet in and forgot about it. It felt like a half-arsed job, but you can see GM using them liberally in these customer satisfaction bulletins: http://www.lemonaidcars.com/pdf/GMIMG6internalbulletins.pdf and my only other options were new parts or plumber’s tape and I didn’t like either option. At least the tablets don't mess up the cooling system in small quantities so they were safe to try.

If you’re interested, these are the tablets: http://www.amazon.com/ACDelco-10-108/dp/B0026JK8C8

I remember Dan saying they’re made of ginger root and turmeric; the root fibres clog the leak and the turmeric fills in the gaps. Who would have thought I’d have a curried cooling system? Somehow appropriate, given my taste in takeaways.

On the oil leak front, my sunroof valve cover (the one I cut a slot into in order to adjust the valves with the engine running) obviously leaked from the front. There was oil down the front of the engine and it had made it onto the compressor bracket, alternator bracket, oil pump and the oil pressure sender (screwed into the timing cover to avoid having it bake under the manifolds). Yes, there was quite a lot to clean up, made much more difficult by the nooks and crannies in the timing cover.

There didn't appear to be a leak from the sump (phew) or the join between the timing cover and head, so for now there didn't seem to be a real permanent oil leak. I guess time would tell.

Temp gauge and instruments
One thing I did notice while the car was running was that the temperature gauge was sitting around 3/4 once it had fully warmed up. Now I'm using an electric fan in this, if you remember, and I'm paranoid it's not large / powerful enough, so I want the gauge as low as possible so I won't keep staring at it while driving! I had a couple of options - either put a resistor in the signal wire to get it to read lower (dangerous, you don't know when it's really hot) or run a lower thermostat / switch combination..

The book says 92C thermostat but I've always run an 82C thermostat here (and in the UK now too) and that keeps things reasonably low. My fan switch is in the bottom of the radiator and was set to 87C for low speed and 93C for high speed and that's the reason why the temp was running high.

Achim gave me a 75C thermostat (pretty rare beast) and I managed to track down some VW switches that had the right thread (M22) and nice low temperatures and put in the 70 (low) /75 (high) to match the thermostat. That helped things out a lot and my temperature gauge settled nicely at 1/4, rising to 1/2 (with the fan on high) after it was running in the garage for a while on a hot day. I can live with that for the time being, although the 75/82 switch might be a better choice as it doesn't seem to thermostat high/low on the fan, instead it goes low then high and stay on high. At least they're easy to change.

Only a short write-up this time, but I now had a working engine so it was getting close to be a real car.

At this point I thought I’d write down the list of things left to do with the Manta to avoid me taking time playing around and not actually making progress. Surprisingly I could fit it onto a (crowded) whiteboard!

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Knocking things off the list next time...

Cheers,
Nick

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Nice to read you solved the problem, to be honest: Never thought a wrong ECU was the cause of the problem;

Think it is because I work on engines that are factory-original.

About your list "things to do": After 6 years on the road my list is still not finished. There is always someone with 

car-problems...

Grts, Herman

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There are really only a few large-ish jobs left now – tighten up the suspension bolts, remove/reinstall the rear window, the electric windows, trimming the right side wheelarch liner and finish and fit the bonnet; the rest are small jobs. Of course, then comes the debugging…

One I could start easily was the bonnet. Testing Jo's patience for the nth time, I took over the living room floor and made some patterns for the Dynamat/Dynaliner.

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Bonnet liner patterns

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Another day, another roll of Dynamat

The Dynaliner is just annoying. I had a piece of the right stuff sitting in the garage – it was a whole roll minus about 14”. I fitted the patterns onto the Dynaliner and was about to cut them out when I realized that the “Dynaliner” name would appear upside down in one panel. Annoyingly I couldn’t fit the three patterns onto the Dynaliner and have the name appear the same way up on all three, and if I didn’t it was going to look silly. One more roll of 1/4" Dynaliner ordered from Amazon... At least the stuff's affordable over here, I saw the prices from Amazon.co.uk when I was working on one of our Mantas over there and they're crazy.

The good thing with the Dynamat underneath the liner is that no one will ever see it (except for you and I), so accuracy isn’t as vital as with the Dynaliner. It fits reasonably well and I should really have put a small filler piece on the left side main panel but it’ll do the job without it so I left it as-is. Otherwise it fits reasonably well. You can see the crinkle effect with the left piece – I had trouble getting it perfectly aligned in the hole so it went on, came off, went on, came off… I smoothed it with a roller and heat but the camera still shows it crinkled. The good thing is that in reality it doesn’t look that bad.

Jo and I put the bonnet on the car one evening after the Dynaliner arrived. We had a few problems with it, but luckily I didn’t drop into Neanderthal mode and just slam it down.

We had it too far forwards initially, meant the hook scraped the paint just a little but nothing that I can’t do an invisible touch up on. Then we had the lock too far to the left and too high so that the bonnet wouldn’t actually close. Eventually I worked out that’s what it was and the bonnet clicked closed… But the left side was now sitting a fraction low and the right side was sitting well proud of the hole as if the bonnet was twisted.

The rear edges were low, so I adjusted those out but still the right side sat proud.

A little thinking (and winding of the front rubber supports all the way home) and I realized it had to be one of two things – either the rubber gasket I use to seal the front of the bonnet opening or the right side supports were holding it open. We checked each side and found the gap on the left side was a lot larger than the one on the right, and clearly the bonnet was sitting on the right side front support. Moving the bonnet lock over to the left helped a little, but in the end I shaved 0.5mm off the bonnet side support and it sat nicely flat.

Looking at the front of the car with a critical eye, I’d say the cowl panel (the panel at the base of the windscreen) is maybe 0.5 - 1mm high, the wings could be bent inwards by about 1mm and the bonnet may well be just a fraction twisted, but it’s something probably only I’ll ever notice and I’ll forget about it over time. So much for my Ridler Award!

Anyway, a few photos…

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Mostly level, reasonable gaps

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Yup, all the logos facing the same way!

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Engine bay in all its glory...

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Almost finished engine bay. Need to connect up the washers, fit the overflow tank, a few other minor things

I think Jo pulled that bonnet cable 25-30 times while we were getting this aligned. She’s almost got an Opel GT driver’s right arm now, but at least we know the bonnet cable works!

Next up was the suspension bolts. Now when I put the suspension together there was practically no weight in the car so the springs were fully extended and I left the suspension bolts all finger tight - I didn't want it coming apart, but I didn't want to tighten them up or the bushes would be under stress when I finally loaded the car up and it dropped to its final height. Now the car was getting close to complete I decided it was time to tighten them as I didn't want to find out the hard way what happens if a bolt comes out on the freeway at 80mph!

It all went fairly well, although finding the correct number for the Panhard rod bolt on the axle was fun (the Opel GT, Manta A and B all have the same setup but completely different numbers, and my two "how to" books on the B both had different figures...), plus Opel threw me yet another curve ball by supplying nuts that needed an 18mm socket instead of 19mm. I've not got anything on any of our cars that use 18mm so I had to order an 18mm socket before I could finish those off.

Bloody Opel.

One thing I have started doing is using a yellow paint pen to mark fasteners once they're tightened up. There are so many on the car that I long since lost track of what was tight and what was only finger tight, so this was good and cheap insurance.

Cheers,
Nick

Edited by CalCol
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A week or so later Achim came over from North Carolina again on business and stayed with us for a couple of days. He was eager to see how it had progressed and also to spend some time working on it with me.

First up was the rear screen. I had fitted it by myself and the screen had been slightly off-centre, meaning the lip of the window gasket on the upper right side was very close to the dip into the window frame. Usually you can move the window around a little while you're putting it in, but in this case I couldn't make it fit properly and it would have to come back out. Actually, I think it might have been a manufacturing defect with the shell - the top of the window opening seems abnormally wide, the bottom of the frame fits the window and gasket much tighter. Not much I can do about it now except ensure I use enough caulk to avoid leaks and centre it as best I can.

We made short work of the window (it's so much easier with two people) and it was helpful for Achim as he'd never installed a window before but has about 20 Opels that he will eventually have to do it to (I kid you not, he's a bad case). We added the black filler strip but left out the corners as it's so much easier to do when the car's outside in bright sunshine rather in a relatively dark garage.

We also tightened the remaining suspension bolts (the 18mm ones - the socket had just arrived) and went over the car one more time with the torque wrench, just to be sure.

Jo had just gone out in one of the cars and so all we had to do was back the Monza out of the way and we could actually get the car out and see if it drove round the cul-de-sac. Ah, hell, why not? It was almost beer time and we weren't planning to do anything else that day anyway...

Engine starts, clutch works...

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Out in the fresh air for the first time

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Almost there

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Man(ni) and Manta in perfect harmony

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Well, maybe I can drive it down the street a little

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Made it back too (and the headlights work!)

I actually went round the block twice and put maybe a mile on the car, noting issues as I went.

1. There’s definitely seemed to be an oil leak – we had it running on the drive for maybe 30 minutes (testing out the electric fan's ability to keep the car cool) and there were three drips underneath afterwards. It looked like it was coming off the front of the engine somewhere.

2. The clutch cable needed adjusting, the take-up point was way too high (clutch adjustment itself was fine, just the cable was wrong).

3. The brakes had too much travel, they needed bleeding or a bigger bore master cylinder (not sure which yet). The brake warning light also came on when I braked. I wasn't sure if that was a wiring issue or it might not have been the pad wear sensors not working the way I think they should. Something else to look for.

4. I’m not sure the electric fan will be able to stay – it seemed to be working a little too hard, but the temperature gauge was showing it was happy enough. We’ll see. At least it's not a hard job to change back to the engine driven fan, but disappointing if I have to.

5. Don't know if you can see the wires hanging off the front of the underside of the car - they were just temporary wiring to allow me to use the VW fan temperature switch with Opel connectors. I had the proper VW connector in the garage and just needed some time to fit it.

6. The speedo wasn't working. I didn't actually notice it while driving (staring at the temperature gauge too much) but the car had 44011 miles showing when I started the build and after at least a mile on the road it was still showing 44011 miles. Time to look at that again.

Other than that, it drove fine, the engine pulled well and it handled just like a new Manta. Achim said it was really quiet when you hear it out on the road and it wasn't bad inside either, even with holes where door mirrors would eventually go! I guess I have the electric fan and a lot of Dynamat to thank for a lot of that, but there were no creaks and rattles either - none - and I don't ever remember that from one of our cars before. One of the things like about Mercedes is that they feel so solid, this Manta's not quite up to that standard but it's way better than our other two.

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Yeah, I'm quite pleased...

One other thing I noticed, though, was a fuel smell fuel in the boot. Now for the US you have to have to ensure all fuel vapour is caught in the charcoal canister so any fuel smell is a major problem (quite apart from being a fire hazard). I had been very careful with the fuel lines as one test the car's going to have to go through is called a SHED test where they heat your fuel tank (in the car) in a controlled environment for a couple of hours and measure the hydrocarbons that come off. Any slight leaks will cause you to fail, guaranteed.

Oh, in case you're wondering what all the blue tape is for, it's just to protect the paintwork. The layers of tape around the window are for when I fit the trim corners - my very first Manta repaint was spoiled by a slip of a screwdriver while fitting the trim corners and I've been paranoid about that ever since. The rest of the tape is just to avoid catching clothing against sharp edges.

The next weekend I started looking for the fuel leak. I guessed the big hose I had joining the Monza filler to the Manta tank would be the cause, so I tightened up the clamps and then decided to double clamp it (offsetting the clamps) to be doubly sure. I also tightened the vent pipe clamps as they were slightly loose too.

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Doubly clamped...

The next day I checked again and still I thought I could smell fuel, so I decided to try a more scientific approach.

Now if I had the system properly put together it should be airtight with just the fuel filler cap and hose to the charcoal canister being the only way out for vapour. So it stands to reason that I should be able to take the vapour line off the canister and put it under a positive pressure, and for that positive pressure to hold until I released it.

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Tank under positive pressure

I didn't want to blow the hoses off the car so I only pressurized it to 1 psi (I can't believe it would get more than that in real life anyway), but I pressurized it in the morning and left it while the day warmed up as that would naturally increase the pressure in the system. When I got home from work there was almost 2 psi on the gauge, so clearly there was still pressure in the system, but was it leaking? Well, the next morning, around the same time, I checked it again and it was back to 1 psi. Honestly, that felt like it wasn't leaking.

So my only guess at the moment is that it's the glue from the boot liner that's outgassing and giving us the same sort of smell. That should subside over time, hopefully before the SHED test!

Next up was re-bleeding the brakes, and afterwards Jo said the pedal felt firmer. The brake fluid level in the reservoir is supposed to be quite high (I finally read the markings on the reservoir!) and what I thought was the “max” line actually was the “min”. I’m guessing that’s why I was getting the brake lamp coming on when I braked when I took it round the block, so that should be solved now too.

And finally I tackled the speedo. While the back of the car was still in the air (the only way to bleed the rear brakes these days is to remove the rear wheels… sigh), I put a chock under the right rear wheel and turned the left one anti-clockwise to see if the speedo or odometer would move and neither showed any interest. So I pulled off the vehicle speed sensor (VSS) and angle drive and took a look to ensure the two of them worked OK together and clearly they didn’t – you could turn the angle drive and the whole body of the VSS would rotate!

I dismantled them and found the angle drive was fine, but the VSS looked broken – the input side would rotate freely but there was no corresponding move on the output side. I grabbed a new one out of stock and it worked fine, so I have either broken it myself or it was broken when I bought it. Sigh again…

Anyway, I soldered on a new connector to the VSS and then reassembled it, ensuring that everything rotated, and it went together without a problem as long as the VSS was connected on the gearbox side of the angle drive (which is how I had it originally).

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Heath Robinson is alive and well...

Back on the car Jo rotated the rear wheel and the output from the angle drive obligingly rotated, so everything looked OK. I tried twisting the inner part of the speedo cable while Jo watched the speedo, and the needle flickered so the cable and speedo head were working fine. With the cable back on the angle drive and the VSS connected back up, I spun the wheel as fast as I could in an anti-clockwise direction and Jo watched the speedo and odometer. The needle didn’t move, but the odometer went from 000.0 to almost 000.1 so clearly the speedo was being driven. That was fine for me, job done for now.

One remaining worry is how close the angle drive comes to the gearbox support bracket, you can see it clearly in the attached photos. I guess we’ve got 7-8mm between the two. I’ll have to keep an eye on that. I don’t believe the gearbox would move that far under acceleration and end up damaging the VSS again (it’s only plastic) but you never know. The VSS is very hard to find (I can find only one more in Germany) and bloody expensive so I can’t afford to keep breaking them…

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It would probably make sense to screw the angle drive into the gearbox and then screw the VSS into the angle drive, but unfortunately the parts don’t work that way round – the VSS input side jams on the output side of the angle drive. Bloody Opel again. If it does turn out to be a problem I have a Monza 4-speed automatic gearbox mount that I could modify to fit - it's more of a bridge shape so it'll stop the gearbox moving laterally.

Well, I now had a (mostly) working, driving car but the doors were still a mess. I'd put them off as long as I could...

Cheers,
Nick

 

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Thanks Kev! It's almost as much fun writing it up as it was working on the car... We're getting close now - the start of this was 4 years ago and this latest episode is from only 3 months ago.

 

The door window saga

All through this build I've been mentioning fun I had with the doors and later the door windows. If I had any inkling it was going to be this much fun I'd have found some secondhand doors and swapped the skins if necessary. Fixing the hinges on the doors in the bodyshop was well over $1000 and then it was just extreme fun during the build to get anything to fit into them the way it should. Anyway, enough moaning.

By now I had runners in the doors and the upper door opening trim in place and the door windows sort of fitting. The initial problem of the windows feeling as though they were being twisted when in the runners was mostly fixed by cutting a chunk of thread off the front lower adjuster, which allowed me to have the bottom of the front runner bend more inboard. At this point the windows would go up and down, but they were incredibly close to the inner lip of the door frame, so much so that they rubbed hard against the door card when I installed it.

I also had fun fitting those little rubber blocks that go at the back of the doors. I had long since replaced the blocks with Reprotec repros (http://www.ebay.de/itm/351028492611) and they fitted the orange doors perfectly; here they seemed too long and got in the way of the door at the top of its travel.

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US Manta door

The pic above shows the back of the door where the rubber block goes. Now luckily I'm rebuilding my silver Manta in the UK after a recent complete respray and so I could take a pic to compare the two cars as the doors on my UK Manta (also new Opel doors) actually fitted perfectly.

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UK Manta door

If you look closely, you'll see the door on the US Manta seems compressed - the inner frame appears to be pushed inwards compared to the one on the UK Manta and that's what brings the inner part of the frame closer to the window. You can see how close it comes in the pic of the US Manta door. The strange thing is that both doors on the US Manta looked very similar and suffered from the same problem. I can't remember how I had them shipped over here, but clearly something had distorted the frame (the skins were perfect... strange).

The immediate problem was the area where the rubber block went - the metal bowed into the area where the block needed to be, so I got a block of wood and a hammer out and set about re-shaping that part (scary on a brand new paint job...). I had to shave the rubber blocks down a little to fit with the door cards, but eventually it all went together.

The other thing I measured on the UK car was the width of the door opening.

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Measuring the UK Manta door opening

I measured both doors on both cars in multiple places and the opening was consistently 6-7mm wider on the doors on the UK Manta compared to the US Manta. Clearly the frame was compressed for some reason and that may be the reason why the windows were too close to the inner panel.

I got my block of wood and 5lb hammer out again and tried to persuade the door inner frame more inboard, but they're strong little buggers and refused to move with the amount of force I was prepared to put on them. I adjusted my technique and threaded a strap with a ratchet between the two doors and put some constant pressure inwards on both frames, pulling them 10mm inwards. This time the block of wood and 5lb hammer technique worked and I managed to get the door frames 5mm further inwards along their full length. Best of all, I had no misses with the hammer so the paintwork on the door skins remained unblemished.

With the door windows back in and the door cards on, the windows still rubbed the door card but it was a lot better than before, certainly acceptable when you consider how often the windows would be rolled up and down (almost never, the A/C's on all the time!). I decided it was good enough for now and I might as well get on and finish the doors - I could always revisit them later if I could work out why the runners didn't fit and the door felt twisted.

So I had doors with locks and central locking in place but manual winders. Next thing was to find a way to fit the electric motors. In it's orange incarnation I used a cheap set of electric motors and I'd decided to go with better quality Spal motors this time. The only problem is that the Spal motors are a lot more difficult to fit because the mechanism is larger and the Manta has only thin doors (even when they're not compressed like mine!).

I had used a Spal kit on my silver Manta in the UK and Andy Clears had actually done the fitting as I was in the US at the time. Andy had had a lot of trouble finding somewhere to fit them and had ended up having to cut a part of the door frame to make room for the motor.

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Spal kit in the UK Manta

Now it definitely worked this way but I didn't like the idea of the door frame being cut, so I wanted to find an alternative solution. I tried for most of a day to find a way to make it fit and in the end gave up and decided to go with the original kit, at least for now. I knew I'd have to find a solution for this as I had swapped the doors on my silver Manta in the UK on the respray so I had this kit to find a home for over there too.

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Original electric motor kit installed

So you can see how the motors fit in the pic above - it's still a squeeze though, you have to space the door winder mechanism outboard by about 10mm to avoid the glass hitting the motor on the way down. There's only something like 2mm between the motor and glass at closest approach!

From there I could finish the door build-up and add some Dynamat, then the vapour barrier. The Dynamat doesn't really do much for sound but it makes a nice solid thunk when the door closes rather than the more usual clang.

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Finished door

Oh, and the brown at the bottom left of the door is Dinitrol, not rust!

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Finished door

The door panel was next, along with the various fittings. The door pull surround is actually metal (the earlier cars had metal fittings, later ones were chrome plated plastic) and it refused to clip to the door pull. In the end I added a small screw in the middle of the fitting and screwed it to the door and that worked well. Getting it out again is going to be another story… Looking at the door panel I can see I need to work more on the handle to get some of the accumulated grime off it – it’s the only used piece I’m using on the door trim and getting it back to the right colour is a lot of detail work.

Now there are two more parts to fit to the door.

The first part is the door mirror. I’ve thought about lots of alternatives (and I’m going to get a Corsa A door mirror to try) but for the time being I decided to go with the Manta internally adjustable mirrors. I thought I had one new pair in each country, but the driver’s side one over here turned out to be the wrong style. I should have guessed there was a problem when I got it from Matz – the tag had 17 04 735 printed on the label and someone had crossed it out and written 17 04 740 (the correct number) instead. The mirror fits OK, but isn’t the usual style as you can see.

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Not quite the right door mirror

I don’t mind the style, but the right side one is the usual type so they didn't match and looked strange together. I brought one back from the UK in my March trip and ordered a replacement (asking for a picture before they sent it!).

The final part that needed fitting was the door top outer trim - it was just sitting there at the moment. One thing I always see on Mantas is the front of the trim bent upwards because someone has pulled the door top trim off with the door mirror in place. I wasn't going to do that one, I was going to wait until the mirror was on!

There are a couple of footnotes to this story. Firstly, when I was back in the UK in March I managed to find a way to fit the Spal motors to the Manta door. I haven't finished up the install yet, but you can see how it looks in the pic below.

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Spal motors installed with structural masking tape!

The big problem with these motors is the cables that go from the motor to the winder, there are two of them and they have to cross on the way there, so they're quite thick and push the door panel out. I've had to use small screws to hold the door panels to the door frame in the past, which is inconvenient but at least almost invisible once assembled.

The other footnote is that in writing this up I think I've finally worked out why I had a problem with the doors.

First off, the inner panel of the door and the rear edge on each side were truly deformed and pulling and hammering them was a good idea, but it’s the problem I had trying to make the glass fit in the runners that I’ve worked out.  If you remember, it felt as though the glass needed to be twisted in order to make it fit both the front and rear runners, and I had the devil’s own job trying to get the rear edge to meet the roofline at the right point.

I think the problems I was hitting here were due to the work the bodyshop did to make the doors fit. The doors were too high in the openings and they had to move the hinges on the door frame, but they had to twist the doors to make them fit top to bottom as well. All Mantas I've come across have the bottom trailing edge of the doors sticking out and I was determined this would be a Manta without it. They had to twist the door to re-shape it to fit the body profile.

Of course, that meant the bottom/rear of the door was twisted inwards with respect to the rest of the door, so the rear window runner would angle the glass more outboard than it should be. Since the front of the door wasn’t twisted (it fitted well enough) the front runner was in the correct angle.

That explains why I needed to cut an inch off the front runner’s lower adjuster to bring the bottom of the runner more inboard (and match the angle of the rear runner) in order for the glass to go up and down without binding.

And you know where I’m going next, right? That wasn’t the right thing to do. I should have just elongated the lower mounting of the rear runner more outboard or drilled a new hole (depending how much it needed to move). Gaah!

This may annoy me enough to get new adjusters and take the door apart to fix it properly, you realize...

Cheers,
Nick

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That whiteboard list isn’t getting much shorter, there’s still a list of stuff to do as I’m finding new things as old ones get crossed off.

First off, the oil leak. I think I’m pretty sure now that there isn’t actually an oil leak, it’s just oil that I couldn’t get to after using the sunroof valve cover. I’ve gone over it again and again and there are no new oil leaks now. Good, that’s one thing that can come off the list.

Next is the centre console wiring as there’s a lot going on in there now.  I’ve always had the electric window switches there (I use BMW E30 switches) and when we added seat heaters a few years back they went there too. I’m changing the heater switches over this time from the ones that came with the kit to BMW E30 switches to match the electric windows. I’ve also got rear footwell lighting and I’m running the power and ground wires through the centre console loom as well.

Now the centre console on the later Mantas has a set of cassette boxes, which is fine apart from no one actually using cassettes anymore. My first thought was to leave the boxes to make it look standard, but to house extra power, USB power ports and an aux audio connector facing downwards in them, along with some low level lighting for the cubby below it, so I ran power and instrument panel lighting power there as well.

Add all that lot together and I had some more cutting to do to the centre console and also a new wiring loom to make up. Luckily I had included connectors for all of this in the main loom when I reworked it, so I just had to make up the loom that went under the centre console itself. Easy, and a fun afternoon with the soldering iron!

Then I thought about it a little more and decided I wanted to try to fit a trip computer in the space instead. I’ve always wanted one in the Manta (I have them in the Monzas) but there’s no obvious place to fit it. I have a BMW E30 trip computer, but that looks like a lot of work (electrically) to massage it into place so I discounted that. I also have RHD and LHD Monza trip computers (completely different units) and the RHD unit would fit into the car with very little work, although there would be some experimentation needed.  But I thought something more interesting might be one for the Carlton III / Senator B as it must be possible to configure it to work with the 2.4 Motronic system as the Omega A (same as the Carlton III) came with a 2.4 in Europe. It also had a larger display (good) and control buttons you could site closer to the driver, rather than having to reach forward to operate it.

I emailed Derek at GM6 parts in Plymouth and he had one he could send me, so I set to with the wiring diagrams and worked out what I’d need for the Manta - it was amazingly simple really. Luckily I had included a plug for a trip computer connection in my modified Motronic loom, but I had decided not to bother with a trip computer pigtail in the main loom when I reworked it so now I needed to do some dismantling to get to the instrument cluster for the necessary signals.

One of the items on my list was to adjust the recirculation microswitch (the one that turns the fans on high when I set the A/C to recirculate). It may sound like a simple job, but to get to it I need to get to the A/C recirculation flap, and that means removing the passenger lower front parcel shelf again, then the lower dash, all made a lot more difficult by the extra lighting and wiring I’ve installed. Oh well, if I’ve got to pull the instrument cluster and lower dash off to add the trip computer wiring I might as well do all of this at the same time. No time like the present…

I spent a fun couple of hours identifying which wire was the fuel tank sender – Opel show it as both blue with a white trace and blue with a black trace, and blue with a white trace is used for other things too, so the only way to tell for sure was to dismantle the instruments and follow the PCB trace to the connector. It’s blue with a black trace on this car, by the way!

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Pinouts for the instrument connector on a 6-gauge instrument pack

Next up was to actually make the connections under the instruments and route them to the centre console where I was planning to place the trip computer. A bit of wire tidying up and it was time for the instruments to go back in, followed by the A/C heater control and adjusting the recirc flap microswitch. More trim assembly and the instruments cluster was back together. Next up was the power wiring for the trip computer.

Now I was lucky enough to have constant power, switched power, instrument lighting and ground already sitting down in the centre console loom for the power ports and the cubby lighting, so I just paralleled off them for these signals and made up the 6-pin connector for power and basic signals, a 1-pin for the VSS and 2-pin for the fuel injection signal. I added wiring for the Omega trip computer (in case I ended up using it) for the ALDL (diagnostic port) connector – that’s two wires from the centre console, across the dash and just hanging where the ALDL connector is at the bottom right side of the dash.

The only thing left to do before the lower half of the dash went back on was to reduce the brightness of the lighting for the passenger side parcel shelf. I’m using the same strip of LEDs that I use for the footwell lights and that’s way too bright to have on all the time with the instrument lighting, so I added a variable resistor to the wiring so that I can adjust the brightness with the dash back on, then replace it with a fixed resistor (probably) once I work out what it needs to be.

Next was the right side lower dash and it went on amazingly easily (there must be something wrong) and the radio went in easily too (unheard of). Of course, the radio’s going to come out again before it’s all finished so I didn’t struggle with the trim sleeve as well. The left side of the dash got a light Dynamatting (what else?) and then was fitted for the first time, with the steering wheel back on (Jo prefers the Irmscher one to the Opel Sport one I had originally intended for it) the interior is getting very close to done.

I just had to try the trip computer out, so I cut the minimum number of wires on the Monza trip computer and got it temporarily fitted as you can see in the pic below.

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Dash back together and Monza trip computer temporarily connected

It seemed to mostly work, although for some reason it showed zero gallons per hour at idle. When I made the connection to the trip computer it briefly showed around 5.0 g/hr but decayed to zero, and that suggested there’s no signal on the wire, it was just reacting to the 0-12V transition. I’ll checked my wiring and found I had the injection wires switched and it’s just seeing the injector power. Simple.

Of course, it showed too much consumption as it’s coded for a 3.0E Monza – same injector flow but six injectors rather than four. It looks like it’s possible to code it to 4-cylinders but I needed to find an additional pin for the multi-pin connector - I really didn’t want to be half-arsed about it and just solder a wire to the coding pin.

I wish I could code the temperature display to centrigrade… it works nicely (79-82F in the garage while I was trying it out) but I much prefer 26-28C.

One thing I noticed while the car was running was a tappet noise (single tappet sound) from the rear of the engine. Last time I drove it, I had driven it around 4 miles in really hot weather and it was entirely possible it just needed adjusting now, or it might be my nightmare scenario and be a blocked oilway. I applied the Schrödinger’s Opel principle and turned the engine off.

It gnawed at me, though, and so I took the valve cover off for a look and see if there was actually oil in the head.

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Looks fine to me – plenty of oil

I stopped panicking and put the valve cover back on! Hasn't happened again but I keep listening out for it.

Last thing I did that day was to refit the high rear brake lamp (it came off when Achim and I removed / refitted the rear screen) and finally fit the trim corners to the rear window. Now the corners were fitted the masking tape could come off and the rear of the car was pretty much finished now. The rear bumper may come off in the future to fit the trip computer outside air temperature sensor if I fit it back there, but until then it’s looking very finished.

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I was originally going to fit one or two rear fog lamps but I’ve decided against it for the time being because a) it’s not a legal requirement here, B) to my eyes it looks more modern and cleaner lines without it and c) we don’t really get much fog here anyway!

I’m going to get the body shop to look at the left forward edge of the boot as it’s sitting a little high with the strong boot spring we’ve got in there, but it’s not very bad and you wouldn’t really notice it unless I pointed it out. Jo’s Manta is way worse and was like it from the factory. I mentioned heating the spring a little to reduce the strain on it to Andy Bartlett and he said he tried it and the spring lost all its tension so I’ll not do that then!

A couple of days later the Carlton trip computer arrived. Again, it was coded for a 6-cylinder (24v this time) but I could at least test it. Since I had made the connections into the rest of the car with both trip computers in mind, this one took about 20 minutes to get working. Came up first time and showed a steady 0.5 gallons per hour at idle.

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One minor thing was that the Carlton wiring diagram was wrong and I ended up wiring the little remote button unit incorrectly, with one of the clock setting buttons cycling through the various displays! Couple of second fix with the soldering iron and that was done.

Pretty quickly I decided I wanted to use the Omega trip computer. It’s physically larger than the Monza one but it has a better display, remote buttons and it can be coded to the 2.4 engine by your local Vauxhall dealer using a little plug-in module. I’ll get my local dealer to re-program it when I’m next in the UK (next week).

There are some more electrical changes I’m going to need to make for it – I’m currently using a 6 pulse per rotation vehicle speed sensor and this should need an 8 pulse one if my calculations are correct, and I’ll need to be a little inventive with the fuel level sensor as the Carlton tank is a different capacity, different shape and has a different resistance at empty!

Now I have to work out how to make it look like it should actually be there…

 

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This is going to be the last update for a while - firstly because we're coming over to the UK tomorrow for a couple of weeks, so I'll be busy working on our pair of Mantas over there, and secondly we're almost up to date with where the car is today so there's not much more to report. Still, there's a month or so to catch up, so here's one last update.

Firstly, some Opel porn!

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Sorry, couldn’t resist – it was a nice, sunny (but not too hot) day so I finished off a load of Manta stuff and took it round the block for a quick drive (7 miles on the clock - honestly sir it's a new speedo head), then took Jo out for a quick drive too. I couldn’t persuade Jo to drive it – she’s still terrified of damaging it!

Overall it was a good drive, but I did notice a few more things:

  • Now it's all closed up and airtight it's a lot quieter than your average Manta, but that means the Manta bad spots you notice a lot more. We got up to 60 on the main road and Jo says the right side door is silent, but there’s a little wind noise coming in from the front corner on the driver’s side.
  • Brakes still need some bedding in, but I think there’s still a small leak from the flexy hose connection with the rear axle on the rear axle side, and that may be reducing the overall braking performance. They’re getting better, though… I think they feel weak because the BMW I drive on a daily basis has very light brakes, everything else we have (all Opels) seems heavy.
  • Still not 100% sure about fuel leaks in the boot. We had the tank under a few psi positive pressure for 24 hours so there really shouldn’t be and it’s probably the glue they used on the boot liner outgassing. I left the car outside to heat the boot up and try to speed up the outgassing and also tightened the nuts on the fuel gauge as I think that's the only place left that might be leaking. If that doesn't work I'll have to pull the fuel gauge and goop it up.
  • The Dynamat really works – much quieter overall, almost complete lack of road noise and the car stays nice and cool inside even when it's 25C outside. The insulation on the A/C works well – there was no gas in the A/C but there was still cool air coming out of the vents, something you’d never get in a Manta with A/C usually as the A/C unit isn’t insulated and it’s right at the back of a hot engine bay. The rear window shade works too – doesn’t obstruct the view and seems to keep the back of the car cooler – you can just about see it through the window tinting in the pics. I have two more of these and I’m planning to add one to each UK Manta eventually.
  • Still no rattles or squeaks except the seat belt stalk squeaking against the seat cheek – always had that problem in the past but you could barely hear it because the car was so loud…
  • Door strikers need adjustment. With two of us in the car the doors don’t want to close without a hard pull. Easy enough job but points out how weak the Manta chassis really is compared to newer cars. Of course, the alternative is that I could lose a few kg, but it’ll take bacon sandwiches being outlawed before that becomes likely.
  • Front wheels desperately need adjustment. The front tyres leave black marks on the drive! I need to book it in to the local tyre place to get it done, but I’ll take the day off as I may need to shim the front suspension to adjust camber and castor while it’s there - I just put the standard 3mm and 6mm shims in when I built it.
  • A/C needs gassing up, I’ll only know if the electric fan is really going to work once I have the A/C running. It’s doing fine with the A/C off at the moment but the A/C adds a lot more load.
  • Still not sure about the rear end – it looks very plain. I may swap the black filler panel in to see if that makes it more interesting. Definitely don’t want to add a big Exclusive spoiler or anything like that.

Driving it gave me a chance to check out the trip computer readings out on the road. The readings are a little strange at the moment, but it still points to my calculations being correct, luckily. At a constant indicated 25 (which is actually 25 according to the GPS) the trip computer showed between 18 and 19. Now I have a 6 pulse VSS at the moment and I have an 8 pulse sender coming from Matz which should correct it – 8/6 = 1.33 and the difference in speed is 25/18.5 = 1.35. Perfect.

The range showed F (fault) because the voltage from the Manta fuel sender was too high compared to the Omega sender. My first pass at fixing it was a small voltage divider to bring the voltage down to match what the trip computer expected and that did fix the fault display for a short while but eventually it showed F again. With a digital meter on the signal wire I worked out what it was - the voltage stabilizer in the Manta is a mechanical device that switches between 12V and nothing, averaging around 10V. Of course, when the voltage is 12 for too long the signal to the trip computer is too high and it shows a fault. When it's 0 it's fine. What I need is to switch to a later solid state regulator that actually regulates the voltage to be constantly 10V. I used to have one in this car but I swapped it out in the name of originality when I put the car together... doh. Got some 10V regulators on order from China and I'll make up a new regulator when they arrive.

The next weekend I booked the car into the local tyre place for a front end alignment and it really was a major milestone for the car in my mind. That may seem strange, but the Manta’s taken the step forward from being a project to being a car; it’s the first time someone’s worked on this as a complete car rather than as a project or as parts.

The alignment machine was like a lot of test hardware these days, it wanted a VIN so it can work out what the car is and tell you what the settings should be. Of course, the Manta is old enough to have a 10-digit VIN and it refused to believe that was a real number. I asked the tech to add the Opel WOL0000 prefix and it was happy. Most worrying is that I knew the VIN of the car without checking the chassis plate!

Next hurdle was that it didn’t recognize the VIN so it gave a list of manufacturers and models (no option to say, “none”). We picked 1975 Manta as the tech said he could modify the numbers once we’d picked a car. I had brought the numbers with me so he let me modify the settings.

Next part was to actually measure the alignment, which is really fast once you attach a target to each wheel, move it forward onto swivel plates at the front and set the steering wheel at the straight-ahead position. Didn’t look good – we had a sea of red.

The castor was fairly close but the camber and toe were a country mile away from where they needed to be. I wasn’t surprised about the toe as I’d set it by eye with no weight on the front wheels (not even an engine) but the camber was worrying, it was over a degree out. Now I know I can change the camber by turning the upper ball joint round by 180 degrees, so my hope was that I’d just assembled it backwards.

I checked the specs again and noticed I’d set the camber specs to 0.75 degrees +/- 0.5 degrees instead of -0.75 degrees +/- 0.5 degrees. Clearly the A series has a positive camber at the front and I’d just looked at the numbers (rather than the sign) when I adjusted the specs. Back to the readouts and the camber and castor were in spec now, just the toe needed adjusting. Here’s our numbers with the specs in parentheses:

           Left                      Right
Camber     -1.0    (-0.75 +/- 0.5)   -1.1             Diff: 0.0 (i.e. less than 0.1 degrees)
Castor      5.5    (5.25 +/- 1.25)    4.8             Diff: 0.7 (spec is 1.0 max)
Toe         1.88                      1.79            Total toe 3.68 (spec is 0.25 +/- 0.15)

So with some careful fiddling at the front we got to:
Toe        0.13                       0.14            Total toe 0.28 (spec is 0.25 +/- 0.15)

The castor is well within spec, but I think I’ll shim the right to bring it to 5.5 left, 5.6 right and get it spot on side to side and in the middle of the range. If I do it within 30 days they say they’ll do a re-test for free, so you can’t complain about that, can you?

On the road the steering wheel points straight ahead when the car is travelling in that direction (doesn’t always happen in my experience!) and it doesn’t feel like it’s straining. In fact, it feels very lively and I have to keep reminding myself I’m running the engine in.

Oh, and the alarm works as the tech found out a few times. The ultrasonics work too – I had left the sunroof open and forgot to shunt the sensors. Yup, nice loud wail…

The next weekend was one more step done, it now has working A/C.

The night before, I put some oil in the compressor and tightened up all the unions. I was a little nervous as AC Delco included a note with the compressor saying to add 60cc of oil but Opel said add 170cc, quite a difference. If I overfilled it I could blow the compressor. If I under-filled it, it wouldn’t have enough oil and probably blow the compressor. No pressure then (forgive the pun). I went with Opel’s recommendations and added 6 fl oz (we’re in America, remember) into the compressor. There was already 80cc in the accumulator but both other components were empty, so I put the rest of the oil out to bring with me in the morning, along with a pile of tools for the unions and even a spare compressor!

The A/C shop is a small one-man affair about two miles from where we live so it was only a quick trip over there. I stopped for fuel on the way (first time I’ve taken it to a gas station!) as the gauge was reading pretty low and there’s often a lot of idling involved while filling it.

The chap was waiting for me when I got there and we put it on a vacuum to get the air and water out and see if we had a leak.

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60 minutes of vacuum and leak test

The vacuum pump was on for 45 minutes, followed by a 15 minute leak test (basically watching to see if the vacuum gauge moved) so 1 hour all in. Then it was fill time. We had talked about it during the vacuum pull and agreed to go with a little less refrigerant than the book suggests, mostly because I’d changed the suction hose from a #12 to #10 (i.e. used a smaller bore hose), then watch the pressures and see what happened.

Opel say 1.25kg of R12 and that corresponds to about 1.1kg of R134a. In the end we put in 1.0kg. We put an additional 75cc of oil in with the refrigerant, along with some UV dye, so that would make up for the lack of pre-oiling the evaporator and condenser. It would also help if it turned out to have a leak.

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Engine on, charging

I started the car and pulsed the A/C on and off a few times to get the oil moving and prevent the compressor seizing, and then clicked it on. The pressures immediately stabilized out just where the A/C tech wanted them, I couldn’t believe my luck. There was actually ice on the accumulator… I must insulate it – it’ll not look good but there's no point in heating the refrigerant, it just costs you more in the long run.

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Just where you want them

I had brought my meter with the temperature probe so I checked the centre vent temperature with the fan on medium and got a low of 2.5C. Quite happy about that – this was inside his shop without any air flowing over the car and the engine at idle. Sure, the condenser inlet temperature was probably not much above 21-22C but that’s still way better than the Monza. The cooling system seemed to cope fine, the gauge remained on the 1/4 mark all the time.

Best of all, the tech said the high side showed I had plenty of air flow over the condenser – that second condenser fan was obviously a good choice!

Apparently the official term for this is “kick-ass air conditioning” :D

Well, that's me up to date now. I'm still futzing with the trip computer and worrying about the electric fan and a possible fuel leak. Next step along the way is to get the car down to LA to have it certified for use in California. It was legal before, but because I've changed the injection and added an EGR (and cats down in LA) it needs to be re-certified. I was thinking about driving it down but it's 450 miles south of here and temperatures can be up near 40C this time of year in some places, that really doesn't feel like a trip that will turn out well after just 17 miles on local roads. I'll book a transporter.

Timing for this is the end of September - we'll be down visiting friends in Orange County and that's an ideal time to get the car into the test facility in Anaheim. I need to go to the local DMV office (California's equivalent to the DVLA) to get a temporary permit to drive it on the road and also arrange transport before then - with that being four weeks away and with us being in the UK for two of them, it's going to be a busy time.

Cheers,
Nick
 

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Stunning build and a fascinating thread. Really great to read.

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Thanks P6ULO!

Quick update as we got back from the UK last night and plans have moved on.

The transporter is booked and the Manta will be picked up on the 27th (next Tuesday) and dropped off at Preston’s house in Orange County on the 28th. We’re driving down in the BMW on the 29th and the plan is to go over to the certification lab on the Friday (30th). George (the chap who runs the certification lab) is an unreasonably relaxed being and just said to come over with the car – no appointment necessary, no plan of what to do when it arrives, so I guess we’ll just play it by ear. I'm expecting he'll need it for a few weeks though.

I have an appointment at the DMV this Friday to argue my case for a temporary permit. Fingers crossed as I'm not sure what I'll do if they say no!

George wanted to make his own exhaust for certification purposes and that suits me fine. Each test costs a small fortune, so the fewer you do the happier your wallet is, and letting him make the catalyst part of the exhaust is going to give me a much better chance of passing the test. I bought a genuine Omega A C24NE catalyst from OCP a while back and I'd much prefer him to use that if he can as they're dirt cheap and should be nice quality, so I'm taking the cat and some matching flanges down with me to make it easier for him to do that.

Making the exhaust up takes some pressure off me, but there's still plenty to do in the next week...

Top of my list is the fuel tank. We were still getting possible fuel smells from the boot and it’s an obvious failure if there are leaks. I decided to put a few pounds of pressure in the tank again and see what happened, so just before we left I put 3.75psi in the system and clamped the hoses closed. I also left the boot open while we were away to allow any vapours (hopefully just glue vapour) to escape.

Much to my surprise there was still 3psi in the system when we got back, and that’s over 2 weeks since I put the pressure in it.

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I closed the boot this morning and Jo and I checked it this evening; the vapour smell was a lot less than before so I really can’t believe there’s a leak. We’re leaving it under pressure with the boot open for a little longer as we still have some hot days left to help it out-gas.

Other items on my list:

  • Fix that bloody leaking brake hose union and re-bleed the rear brakes
  • While I'm under the car swap the 6-pulse VSS for an 8-pulse one that will drive the trip computer correctly
  • Check for vacuum leaks and see if I can make it start easier (it starts, but it's not very eager when cold)
  • Switch over to a regular mechanical fan (yes, I know, chicken!)
  • Adjust the door strikers to help the doors close better with a load in the car
  • Check all the suspension bolts and engine bolts one more time (can’t be too sure)
  • Remove the trip computer and tidy up its wiring since it's not complete and looks a mess
  • Remove the stereo to avoid anyone stealing it from the car while being transported (it happens...)
  • Tidy up the front parcel shelf wiring (it has a variable resistor hanging in the footwell to help set the correct light level!)
  • Collect together a spares kit for a possible drive back home to the Bay Area after certification

So a busy weekend ahead, and a warm one too as it's supposed to be 29 or 30C. Ugh.

Cheers,
Nick

 

 

Edited by CalCol
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Another hurdle jumped, the DMV said yes... I now have three one-day permits, which basically means I can use the Manta on the road for three days and I pick the days when I need them. I was hoping for a one-month temporary permit, but apparently your name has to be Obama or something like that to qualify these days.

You know, it would make sense for the UK to operate the same system as (IIRC) it's still illegal using a car on the road if it's out of MOT, even if you're just driving the car to the MOT station on a pre-arranged appointment. A one-day permit system would avoid that sort of silliness.

I'm working today so I'm not going to get much done on the car and tomorrow is due to be 35C. Ugh.

Cheers,
Nick

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The Manta finally left to go down to LA last Wednesday and I started to de-stress. It was supposed to have been picked up on the Tuesday, but around 12:00 I called the trucking company and they said the truck was being fixed and the car would go Wednesday instead. Would it arrive the same day then? No, it’ll arrive Thursday. Grrr, don’t bother telling me, will you?

Anyway, we agreed that the chap would turn up at 9:00 on Wednesday to do the paperwork and then pick the car up around 12:00 since I had to go into work and wouldn’t be around at 12:00 to sign for it. Around 10:00 the trucking company agent arrived (sigh) and we did the paperwork. When would the truck arrive? About an hour, it’s dropping off in Hayward at the moment.

At 12:00 I called Jo from work and asked if it was on its way. No, haven’t heard from them. I called the trucking company once more and this time was told the truck was in Concord! Why? Well, they had a time-limited pick-up there and so they did that first, and since ours was at a residence they were just going to pick it up when they could. Nice. When will the chap be here then? Oh, before 5pm.

Around 3pm Jo called to say the truck was there and was being loaded. Finally. Apparently the actual driver was a nice and very meticulous chap who’d owned a Kadett previously in Africa and loved the Manta. I feel a lot better!

 

Honestly, this is as stressful as having a baby…

Jo took loads of photos and I’ve attached a selection. The driver wanted to cover the Manta to avoid road grit damaging the paintwork and in case the car above dropped anything, so Jo got the cheapie cover I used to keep dust off it while I was building it and he tied it down. I was expecting it to be in shreds in 450 miles time, but there you go, at least he was trying. The good news was that it was at the front and on the lower deck, so it was going to be out of the airflow as much as possible and I think that will help the cover (and my blood pressure). I just wish I’d been able to afford covered transport.

Project images are available to Club Members Only, Click to become an OMOC Member.

Project images are available to Club Members Only, Click to become an OMOC Member.

Project images are available to Club Members Only, Click to become an OMOC Member.

Project images are available to Club Members Only, Click to become an OMOC Member.

Project images are available to Club Members Only, Click to become an OMOC Member.

Project images are available to Club Members Only, Click to become an OMOC Member.

 

The car was scheduled to arrive on Thursday morning with Preston & Tina and we were planning to be there a few hours later in the BMW, ready for a Friday meeting with the emissions lab…

 Of course, the car actually arrived around 3pm the next day but the good news was that the car cover was intact and the car undamaged.

On Friday we almost doubled the mileage on the Manta… it was 00020 when we started out and by the time we got to the emissions lab it was 00038. Jo and I drove over there together and it was uneventful (despite my constant fretting) except for a quick stop on the hard shoulder on I-405 in rush hour traffic to close the bonnet as it obviously hadn’t been latched last time it was opened. Luckily it held on the hook and didn’t fold up over the windscreen!

Surprisingly, George was actually there when we got over there and he simply told me to drive the car round to the loading door and leave them with it. I honestly wasn’t getting a good feeling at this point.

About 10 minutes later he came back to reception and called us into a conference room (better) where he gave me the 20 questions routine on the car’s history. Eventually he let us tell him the history and things went a little smoother, but I still wasn’t getting the feeling we were going to have a good outcome. After some more interrogation about emissions history, why I had made the changes, etc, he pointed out that this was going to be expensive, in the order of $5-6000 and we didn’t blink, just said yes, that’s what we were expecting, That seemed to be what he needed, as things went a lot better after that.

I remember when Preston and I went to see him 4-5 years ago we got a similar cold shoulder treatment that only really broke when he saw the Monza. Apparently a lot of potential Skyline owners are directed to him by CARB (the California Air Resources Board) and they expect their cars to be converted to California emissions for $100. Not surprisingly he’s fed up wasting his time on this.

So he’s got the car, says it’s going to take 8-12 weeks and has the goal of delivering the car back to me with a smog certification and brand new BAR (emissions) sticker. Fingers crossed it actually goes that smoothly. I remember there was a lot of interaction the last time with Jo’s Monza!

 

Project images are available to Club Members Only, Click to become an OMOC Member.


Manta at George’s shop with George in the background. I’m in the car explaining how to find the check engine light!

The electric cooling fans seemed to cope with the 18 mile drive in 73-75 (23-25C) weather with the A/C on, but to be honest I don’t think they’re going to manage the 100 (37C) weather we had on the way down. Unfortunately, I think the Manta’s going to have to go back to the mechanical fan. Sigh. I also need to fix a vibration coming from (I think) the suction hose in the A/C , I think it’s hitting the chassis leg. I can half-arsed repair it with a rubber bumper, but of course the correct solution is to un-gas, loosen the union on the compressor, move the hose, re-tighten and re-gas. You know I’m going to do that, right? :D

Cheers,


Nick

 

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Fingers crossed for you Nick, I hope all goes well.

8-12 weeks? what is he doing to it ? seems a long time.

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Sitting in a corner gathering dust most of the time I think, Chris. The tests themselves take a couple of days each and then there's remediation time for failures, but honestly if he was more collaborative it should take a lot less time.

With Jo's Monza it was around the same - 8-12 weeks, though.

 

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Just when I thought they were just going to keep my car forever, this popped up in my email this morning.

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They've just started working on it and we're working out where to place the cat. I'd asked them to place it in the "hump" on the right side of the transmission tunnel (that's where Opel intended a cat to go) but they want to put it further forward than that, of course. You can see where the hump is, it's the nicely painted part right near the exhaust clamp.

The problem is that cats only work when they're warm, and the closer to the engine they are the faster they warm up. One part of the test includes starting the car from cold and driving it in a simulated urban environment (on a rolling road) and collecting gas from the exhaust while they're doing it. The faster the cat warms up, the cleaner that sample will be.

I can see his point - he doesn't want to mess around, he just wants the car to pass the test and get out of his hair. Unfortunately I have to live with it and want it up away from the road (i.e. not hanging down) so that I don't set off fires when I park on the grass and don't scrape it over every sleeping policeman. I also don't want to have to re-make the exhaust straight after he finishes with it.

When I met them back in September they were talking about using a pre-cat to help it warm up faster - that's a small cat right up near the manifold that warms up very quickly and has the secondary benefit that it warms up the exhaust gas stream so the second (main) cat warms up too. That would allow me to have the main cat further back and still not have problems with the urban cycle test.

Oh well, we'll see - communication still isn't his strong point.

Cheers,
Nick

 

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Project images are available to Club Members Only, Click to become an OMOC Member.

 just skimming through this thread again as far as i can see from this picture the locking tab on the cross member bolt is doing nothing !

 It is bent around a ridge / highest point of the bolt head instead of a flat so the bolt has clearance to rotate inside the locking tab, but the locking tab itself is not locked against anything so is free to turn with the bolt, perhaps it needs a rethink.

 As for your ongoing trouble making the car comply with state vehicle rules, no one made you go and live in the SUNSHINE State, no forced you into high paid careers or buy a large house, sympathy gets a little difficult to dispense when we sit and look out of the window of our humble abodes at the rain coming down again !

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Well spotted, Ian, I think the other side is the same too. I'll turn the tab and re-tighten when I (eventually) get the bloody thing back.

One thing I would like to clear up, though: I'm in the Golden State, not the Sunshine State. The Sunshine State is on the right hand side, gets very humid and is full of alligators!

Cheers,
Nick

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2 hours ago, CalCol said:

The Sunshine State is on the right hand side, gets very humid and is full of alligators!

 Ah yes of course, Immigrant and drug smuggling on the Atlantic side, the retired on the gulf side, or as Clarkson put it, Cocaine and cocoa seperated by a swamp !

 

2 hours ago, CalCol said:

I'll turn the tab and re-tighten

 The tab needs a redesign, it has to be anchoured to something that does not revolve, like the bolts that hold the steering rack in, there is a recess in the cross member for tab to be engaged into.

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I've just read through this thread for the 3rd time! All excellent stuff, and full of envy of your talents and attention to detail! It's a fabulous looking Manta! 

Re your comments below:

  • Still not sure about the rear end – it looks very plain. I may swap the black filler panel in to see if that makes it more interesting. Definitely don’t want to add a big Exclusive spoiler or anything like that

I have to agree with you. The rear end does look a bit plain. I think the black infill panel will help a lot. I also think the standard GTE spoiler in body colour would help as well. The Exclusive spoiler would be overkill. I do like the silver GTE decals as well, stealthy but perhaps they are just a tad too subtle. Black may be better and give some detail to the rear end, but then you would need to change the rest to match. 

Looking forward to reading future updates! 

 

 

 

Edited by Monaco Blue

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Thanks!

I was going to get some decals made up with a slightly darker shade (a light grey) but we had the silver ones in a cupboard and I thought I might as well use them to see what they were like. They are a little less stealthy when you actually see them but you're right. I'll get some grey ones made up and see what they look like. I'd prefer not to use black as I like the ghosted effect, but I'd like them a little stronger than they are.

We have the big Exclusive spoiler on my wife's car in the UK and that was too much for this one - it'd attract too much attention. I have a GT/E spoiler somewhere (unfortunately I think it's in the UK) so that's a possibility as long as I can get it over here without exceeding luggage size limits! It is a lot more subtle and does suit the car's lines quite well.

The annoying thing is that I think I've got the front and side views perfect, it's just the back end that's a bit of a let down. Still, it's nice to be at this stage in the project, where I can tweak things here and there to make it better.

Cheers,
Nick

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