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Reliant Scimitar SE5a 2008-09-29
First breakdown, rustproofing, MOT

It finally happened a few weeks ago. The first breakdown.

Driving back through town in the rain. Sat at traffic lights, windscreen is misting up so I turn on the heater fan. Doesn't work, I'll fix that later I think. Lights change and I pull away, engine dies on me and won't restart. Manage to get off the road on the starter and emerge from the car effing and blinding. It would fire and run on the starter but die a second after letting go of the key. I was thinking fuel supply issues and checking for leaks and split pipes. Started looking into the ignition side and it twigged; it runs a ballasted system so has power to the coil direct from the starter, hence it would fire, but no power to the ballast resistor from the fusebox. So once off the starter there's no ignition feed to the coil. Fuses and wiring seemed fine so I ran a length of cable to give a permanent live feed to the ballast resistor. Car runs and I get home, park it and forget about it til the next day.

I hadn't noticed the coil feed fuse had blown. And what else is fed from that? The heater fan. A quick test of turning the fan on gave a nice "pop" from the fuse as it blew. Narrowed it down to the passenger side fan so pulled that out, worked fine off the car. Put it back and it works fine. I'd connected the fan to the loom with uninsulated spade connectors wrapped in loom tape to insulate them; I'm thinking I hadn't done a good job of that and a connector had worn through and shorted out.

Anyhow, it went through the MOT last week so the weekends leading up to it were spent checking it over. Replaced a steering rack gaiter, track rod end and both top balljoints as they were all worn or had split seals. Also had a lot of movement in the steering column top bush so replaced that. I left the outer column on the car, disconnected the UJ from the column and pulled the shaft out along with the top bush, using some pliers to encourage the bush. Shaft went back in then the bush was pressed in using the steering wheel nut and some suitable washers as spacers.

Went over the chassis with a wire brush, although I left the main section alone as that had a nice healthy coating of oil to protect it. Seems the outriggers and sill sections had been replaced and a lot of underseal applied, which has kept it all solid. With the loose bits brushed off I applied some Dinitrol Converust to (hopefully) chemically stop the rot. It's supplied as an aerosol which makes it very easy to spray over those hard to reach places. I then followed up with some stonechip spray and some Waxoyl where appropriate. I did consider breaking out the POR15 but theres a lot of places that are impossible to get at with a brush.

Still ended up failing the MOT on a small patch of rust under the nearside sill section that I had completly forgotten about. This was on the top of the rail with the body sat right on top of it, so I cut the rust out and carefully welded a patch over. Welded in very short bursts and let it cool down in between. With that done I popped back later that day and passed. Surprisingly no advisories. A good thing.

In other news, I also had the axle input pinion seal blow and dump a lot of oil over the garage floor. Managed to replace that and found the blocked breather hole. In case I forget (!) its on the offside, to the rear of the axle tube near the spring mount. Bingo.

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