Zel's Fleet Blog - Xantia Activa, Lada Riva, Sinclair C5, Mercedes 208D, AC Model 70.

Tell us your ongoing tales and experiences with your French car here. Post pictures of your car here as well.

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Re: Zel's Fleet Blog - Xantia Activa, Lada Riva, Sinclair C5, Mercedes 208D, AC Model 70.

Post by daviemck2006 » 13 Feb 2019, 03:01

Just think Zel, back in the day with my back I could have one of these for my daily driver! Instead having a fully working pug 407 loaded with every luxury possible (bet I get proved wrong) as my disability car! Mind you I would be willing to bet an invacar would make a great delivery vehicle for me lol

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Re: Zel's Fleet Blog - Xantia Activa, Lada Riva, Sinclair C5, Mercedes 208D, AC Model 70.

Post by Zelandeth » 18 Feb 2019, 03:55

Somewhat amusingly, I can see me actually using this as my daily, Davie! It's just that honest sort of mechanically frantic vehicle that makes me happy to be around - just slightly less hard work than the Lada, and more compatible with car park height barriers than the van. Not that those stopped me using it as my daily for a good chunk of last summer!

So given I've spent quite a bit of money on car bits over the last week or two, my plan was to get through the weekend without spending any more money. Oh...wait...
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£83 later...we were able to run those few errands.

In terms of the cars I've actually had very little chance to do anything this weekend, had a couple of hours this evening and that was in. The tasks attacked were:

[] Readjust the brakes. I knew there was too much free play in the system, and checking showed that things did need a tweak. On the front in particular quite a lot of slack was taken up. There is quite a bit of play in the actual pushrod that acts on the master cylinder. This is quite a critical adjustment...and I think I may need to change it...but I'm trying to see if there is in fact a way to do that (without the factory tool) without removing the master cylinder from the car. As I don't want to have to disturb and bleed the entire system yet again until I get the new rear flexible hoses made up and fitted. I seem to have spent as much on brake fluid as petrol lately between this thing and the van.

[] Fuel system check. Given the issues I've had with the fuel system lately I wanted to go over it with a magnifying glass. I couldn't see anything amiss, but reterminated things at the tank end anyway, access was quite awkward last time due to the way the car was parked, so I know it's all lined up nicely now.

[] Fuel gauge. As mentioned before, the sender I'd fitted was for the later Curtis/Veglia gauge, so have no reading on the old Smith's moving iron gauge. With my meter I was pretty quickly able to figure out which wires were what, and made up a jumper for the ground connection (through the case on the old one, which is isolated on the new one).

Was my guesswork right... let's see...
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Yep! That's exactly how much fuel is in the tank. This gauge is damped, so rocking the car only resulted in a tiny amount of gauge wiggling, but it definitely did move. I'll have to wait to see how accurate the tracking is as the tank is used. There's no wire in the original vehicle loom for the warning light, so I'll need to route a new conductor for that at some point. That isn't a priority though at the moment. If I'm smart, I'll ignore that until I get around to pulling the dash to properly repair a couple of ancient wiring bodges back there and to add some mommon sense stuff like relays.

A friend has found an electric fuel pump I can borrow to either prove or disprove mine as the cause of my current fuelling gremlin too, which will be helpful. Given the rebuild kit for the current pump is £60 or so, I'd rather know before shelling out on it. At that sort of price I'm tempted to actually go with an electric pump anyway. Main reason being safety. If I do away with the mechanical pump I can keep the fuel lines all well clear of everything hot. That's currently impossible as the pump is essentially on top of the offside exhaust downpipe. I can see that causing fuel evaporation issues down the line too given how much more prone to that modern fuels seem to be.

Target for this week? Get it to Newport Pagnell. Not least because I want to see the look on the face of my usual garage's staff when they see it!

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Re: Zel's Fleet Blog - Xantia Activa, Lada Riva, Sinclair C5, Mercedes 208D, AC Model 70.

Post by Zelandeth » 19 Feb 2019, 00:15

Thanks to the generousity of the gent behind Hub Nut I received a couple of items which are functionally unimportant but psychologically important shiny bits for TP today which I've now got fitted.
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Kind of hilarious worrying about shiny things like this given the overall cosmetic disaster that the car is, but it makes me happy. Worked out quite well actually as I had a bunch of 12" wheel trims but am running 10" wheels, and he had a set of 10" ones but is running 12" wheels, so we did a swap.

This afternoon I was able to run her up to temperature again and can confirmed that we still have bubbles in the fuel line...time to try an alternative pump. If we still have issues then I guess it will point to a pinhole somewhere in my new fuel pipe. That would be a highly annoying outcome of it was the case...

To that end, have just collected this from a local enthusiast to do some experimentation with tomorrow.
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If this does resolve my fuel delivery issues I will really need to have a good think about whether I want to rebuild the original pump or move to an electric one full time. The idea of being able to reroute the fuel lines entirely away from hot parts of the engine does hold quite an appeal, for all I don't want to overcomplicate things...

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Re: Zel's Fleet Blog - Xantia Activa, Lada Riva, Sinclair C5, Mercedes 208D, AC Model 70.

Post by Zelandeth » 19 Feb 2019, 20:41

Having the electric fuel pump in hand meant that I could start doing a bit of investigative work on TP's fuel system. Step one though was to test the pump and to run a bit of clean fuel through it first, as I've no idea when it was last used nor what it last pumped. Not too much gunk came out really which was good to see.

Attaching it to the car however did pose a bit of a problem. Connecting it directly in place of the original fuel pump was going to be a bit tricky on account of the hose connections on the electric pump being 5/16" rather than 3/16" like on the original. However the tank outlet is 5/16" and I have a reducer up front changing it down within a couple of inches of the tank. So it makes sense to just plumb it in up front - which is where I've generally seen electric pumps installed anyway. Can plumb the existing tank outlet to the pump, then the outlet onto the existing reducer. Annoyingly I don't have quite enough 5/16" hose to sensibly position the pump, so I'll need to go and get some tomorrow. I basically want to hang it from the top tank retaining strap in the front compartment - currently it's cable-tied to the nearest chassis rail.

In the engine bay this left me with a slight quandry as well - as I needed to join the two bits of hose that were the pump was bypassed - however I didn't have a joiner specifically that size anywh...Wait...I think I know exactly what will do nicely.

Going back about a year, one of the things I remembered happening when I was starting to contemplate the fuel injection conversion on the Lada was that the fuel return hose connection barb pulled out of the carb body when I attempted to disconnect the hose from it. The bit of my brain centred around improvisation figured that this would probably make a perfectly good hose joiner if I could find it. Thankfully this didn't prove difficult as I'd stuffed it back into the carb before dumping that in the box of "leftovers" from the injection conversion.
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This indeed did the job nicely, and allowed me to tether everything to one of the support struts in the engine bay.
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Obviously I'll do some proper hose trimming and rerouting if I stick with an electric pump long-term, but this will do just fine for testing purposes.

Initially running things up hasn't shown any evidence of air being drawn into the system with the engine having run for 30 minutes or so. I have seen the occasional bubble *leaving* the fuel filter, but nothing on the inlet - so this must this is just a certain amount of fuel evaporation taking place within the filter housing itself. It is just the occasional one too, rather than a pretty steady stream we had before.

I'll get some more hose tomorrow so I can secure the pump in a slightly less dodgy way, then will look to do a bit of a road test to see if there's any noticeable difference in behaviour.

Also finally got around to throwing a bit of paint at the windscreen scuttle on the van, which I'd been meaning to do forever.
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It's not a permenant solution nor is it pretty, but the idea is that it will keep the critical combination of water and air from being able to get to the metal to continue to rust things once it's painted. In the meantime at least it does help the thing look rather less sorry for itself.

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Re: Zel's Fleet Blog - Xantia Activa, Lada Riva, Sinclair C5, Mercedes 208D, AC Model 70.

Post by xantia_v6 » 19 Feb 2019, 20:55

Zelandeth wrote:
19 Feb 2019, 20:41

Initially running things up hasn't shown any evidence of air being drawn into the system with the engine having run for 30 minutes or so. I have seen the occasional bubble *leaving* the fuel filter, but nothing on the inlet - so this must this is just a certain amount of fuel evaporation taking place within the filter housing itself. It is just the occasional one too, rather than a pretty steady stream we had before.


Could this be the cause of the bubbles you saw with the mechanical pump, which probably transfers more heat to the fuel?

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Re: Zel's Fleet Blog - Xantia Activa, Lada Riva, Sinclair C5, Mercedes 208D, AC Model 70.

Post by Zelandeth » 19 Feb 2019, 22:37

I don't think so, there's an order of magnitude less of them now and they're only visible on the the outlet, there's a totally solid column in the inlet, whereas there were clear gaps in the fuel delivery at both sides. The other difference is that it's only visible at idle where the pump is only pumping once every few seconds - as soon as the revs and fuel demand go up it seems to behave - whereas it kept playing up before.

I think the real test will be tomorrow when I take it out for a run round the block and see what happens...

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Re: Zel's Fleet Blog - Xantia Activa, Lada Riva, Sinclair C5, Mercedes 208D, AC Model 70.

Post by Zelandeth » 21 Feb 2019, 00:09

Following the seemingly successful test yesterday of the electric pump I wanted to move it to a slightly more sensible location. Putting anything like that under the car on an Invacar is pretty tricky as the chassis is quite shallow and there's no central tunnel or anything. So it will be getting attached to the upper fuel tank retaining strap. That will make it far easier to route the pipes without risking kinks as well and make wiring a power feed in less hassle.

As the fuel tank outlet is at the bottom of the tank though I would need to empty it before I could remove the existing pipe from it. Previous tinkering had been done by clamping the hose, but I actually want to remove that hose now.

I've a secret weapon for that though - an old and heavily abused fuel injection pump from my old Saab.
IMG_20190220_175703.jpg
This had the tank from about 90% full to empty within a couple of minutes. The rate that thing can shift fuel at when there's no restriction on the outlet is astonishing! Sadly I had to down tools before I got any further because folks arrived home from work early and I suddenly found I needed to have dinner in the oven half an hour before I started work on the car...

Tomorrow though I've some actual time set aside properly to get something done with the car so hopefully will get back on track and actually do a road test with the electric pump in place.

Annoying lack of progress today!

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Re: Zel's Fleet Blog - Xantia Activa, Lada Riva, Sinclair C5, Mercedes 208D, AC Model 70.

Post by xantia_v6 » 21 Feb 2019, 00:57

Perhaps not likely to be an issue here, but it is not usually a good idea to site the fuel pump significantly above the bottom of the tank because of the risk of vapour lock in the suction line.

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Re: Zel's Fleet Blog - Xantia Activa, Lada Riva, Sinclair C5, Mercedes 208D, AC Model 70.

Post by Zelandeth » 21 Feb 2019, 19:38

The pump is a bit higher up than I'd ideally like, but it's just a matter of "that's where the things I can easily attach it to are" at the moment, especially bearing in mind it needs to be kept the right way up. I'll be more inclined to drill holes for brackets when I'm not using borrowed hardware.
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I then went and gave it a blast round the block a few times.

Usually after this I'd be starting to find a loss of power and the filter would be visibly empty save for a tiny splash of fuel.
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That's a bit better...no bubbling visible today at all.

This took an inordinately long time to get set up by the time I'd plumbed things in, wired stuff up, moved the horn, found a bracket etc so I had to wrap it up after a quick test. Tomorrow I'll try to get a bit more testing done and see if this has fully resolved the fuelling problems.

I still continue to be astonished by how quickly this thing picks up and gets to around 30mph.

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Re: Zel's Fleet Blog - Xantia Activa, Lada Riva, Sinclair C5, Mercedes 208D, AC Model 70.

Post by Pug_XUD_KeenAmateur » 22 Feb 2019, 22:41

chuffed for you that the Invacar's up & running Zel 'Smiles per Hour' :-D . A bit late to the party on my part as its all hands on deck here at home.

Mr Hub Nut seems like a really nice fella. FCF Relevant vids of his include a Citroen BX, a late model C15 and of course those in the Invacar. Personal faves of his are the Skoda Rapid and the Romanian Ren 12 Estate (Dacia) series.

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Re: Zel's Fleet Blog - Xantia Activa, Lada Riva, Sinclair C5, Mercedes 208D, AC Model 70.

Post by myglaren » 23 Feb 2019, 00:05

^ Ian is a genuinely nice chap, shame he never posts here anymore.

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Re: Zel's Fleet Blog - Xantia Activa, Lada Riva, Sinclair C5, Mercedes 208D, AC Model 70.

Post by Zelandeth » 23 Feb 2019, 01:21

I've every respect for Ian and what he does. If it hadn't for him picking up his pair of Invacars I don't think I'd have heard of them yet, much less have the current bundle of fibreglass and duct tape in the garage.

End of play today we have this on the odometer...
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That's another five miles covered for those playing along at home. Would probably have been more actually as mechanically things were going just fine - however the indicator stalk decided to part company with the handlebars.

One of the screws landed in my lap, the other however ended up on the floor and was long gone by the time I got home, probably escaping via the gaping chasm at the bottom of the doors. So had to go digging in the drawer of random fasteners to find a replacement and put it back together...
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...This time sticking a load of threadlock on the screws. If it comes off again I'm resorting to the epoxy.

I'm kind of amused that the first thing to actually fall off is something that had nothing to do with my improvisation, but is a Lucas parts bin item fastened to the car as the designer intended!

I'd hoped to give the brake adjustment another poke today again but ran out of time. Things are definitely settling in in that department now as she rolls so much easier than this time last week, so expecting to need to fiddle around with that for a while until the shoes are all fully bedded in.

I think all being well tomorrow might be the first time we actually go *to* somewhere all being well. Probably Halfords...about 3/4 of a mile away. Does involve a bit of 60mph road though, let's see if 50mph happens again.

I've got some more foamed PVC board on the way (once Yodel find it or actually admit they've lost it so a replacement order can be shipped) which will help me rebuild the rear valance in a slightly less dodgy looking way.

Here's a bit of a general overview of how she's looking now.
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Amusingly, I got back from the last run out just as our local police foot patrol wandered round the corner. Gave me a good opportunity to deal with my first "What even *is* it?" question, and see if they had any issue with the current state. They both said they couldn't see anything which would have had them calling in the traffic guys. Lights all working, nothing hanging off, no pointy bits of bodywork and the brand new tyres are obviously a sign it's being looked after, and "There's a lot more dodgy handiwork in the Halfords car park!" That makes me feel a bit more comfortable doing my road testing.

Here's a quick onboard video from the last test run today.



If you're wondering why towards the end I went round a roundabout a bunch of times, it was because I found myself sandwiched between two mounted police, and didn't fancy trying to pass horses on a narrow residential street in an extremely noisy tiny car - especially one which has been known to backfire on occasion on light throttle openings...

Hoping to get a proper video not involving my own front door isn't visible (not that I care too much given I live in a house that you can Google anyway) with a proper walkround intro and such done shortly...not going to be an editing masterpiece, but I'd really like to try to actually make a "proper" video on the car at least.

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Re: Zel's Fleet Blog - Xantia Activa, Lada Riva, Sinclair C5, Mercedes 208D, AC Model 70.

Post by Zelandeth » 24 Feb 2019, 00:18

My initial plan for today was basically to go drive around in the Invacar for a bit and see if anything else fell off after finishing reassembling the indicator stalk.

That bit was done in short order.
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While I was doing that I rerouted the throttle cable a bit so that it was less in the way of the indicators. That proved to be a bit of a problem before, especially once the stalk got slightly loose and started wobbling around.

I made an executive decision though and forced myself to do some actually useful work with regards to doing a bit more of a permenant repair to the largely missing bits of body.

Off with multiple layers of duct tape and a large chunk of the metal frame which I deemed to be overkill.
IMG_20190223_164653.jpg
Interesting that it looks like the nearside of the exhaust has been running cooler, I'll make a point at doing an actual measurement of the cylinder head temperatures after a run to see if there's an obvious disparity between the two.

I've just left the one band along the lower edge to help the resulting panel retain a decent degree of rigidity. The original panel would have had a lip moulded into it to help with that, but that's kinda hard to do by hand...so a bit of metal strapped to the back will do.

I then got the foam core board out and set about fabricating a new rear bumper. I love this stuff...It's got way more strength to it than cardboard, doesn't go soggy if it gets wet, but you can easily cut it with a sharp knife and bend it by hand.

Of course I ran out of daylight halfway through this, but this was the end result of the construction of the base framework. Trying to get photos of a semi-matt black surface with little ambient light was a bit tricky, but hopefully you can see that there is something like the shape of an actual lip below the engine cover and a bumper here now.
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While I was rapidly running out of time by this point I was determined to get at least some fibreglass laid down over this. I only had a couple of small bits left from the current pack of matting anyway, so figured I'd just use that and then call it a day. This is where we left things.
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Don't worry about the bits dangling down under it, that will get a nice clean edge cut in due course. I've realised quite a few errors in my workflow working with the fibreglass here, and that one of the key things to make your life easier (especially when working on vertical surfaces like this) is to work with small pieces of mat at a time, or you end up with finely atomised bits of glass fibre stuck to everything except the surface you're trying to stick it to.

Once I've got a few layers on here though, a skim of filler and some paint on it I reckon we should be able to get a result which should be good enough. I'm not worried about a perfect factory finish here, "presentable from ten paces" will do just fine. A slightly junior level looking bit of fibreglass fabrication is less likely to get me pulled over by a grumpy traffic cop I reckon than having half of the rear of the car made of duct tape.

The only other thing I immediately need to get the fibreglass on will be the mounting points for the front cover hinges, as the cable ties can't stay there long term...

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Re: Zel's Fleet Blog - Xantia Activa, Lada Riva, Sinclair C5, Mercedes 208D, AC Model 70.

Post by Zelandeth » 25 Feb 2019, 02:07

Let's have a quick recap...

Here's how TP was looking from the rear when she arrived in my driveway (more or less)...
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Fast forward to a week or two back...
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Bringing us up to date, here's how things were looking as of close of play today.
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Now this isn't exactly a work of art, but I think I'm within my rights to declare this to be a big improvement.

Obviously there's a load of filler and sanding to be done yet. The very quick blast of paint over the surface was purely to allow me to see properly how close or not I'd got to the contours I was aiming for. It was quite hard to tell in bare fibreglass.

I forgot to take a photo of it, but I've also filled the holes in the front panel. My solution to this was to stick a duct tape patch loosely to the underside of the panel, creating a pocket into which I could pour some resin - filling up the pocket, and then used some glass fibre tissue to patch the outside. This won't be as strong as it would have been using actual matting, but it's not subject to any real load so should be fine. I reckon the only reason the hinges have been ripped out here is that the lock had seized and someone decided they wanted into the hatch, so they used brute force.

I've also reattached the lower door seal on the nearside which will hopefully slightly reduce the draught level in the cabin.

Bodywork wise I think the next thing I'm going to do is a slightly better securing solution for the transmission access hatch, as it has vibrated itself completely loose again during the last trip. I don't like the little springy clips they've used there - they're fine for securing bits of trim, but something that big and heavy is less than ideal. I'm going to get a few bits of steel bar, rivet them in place over each hole through the panel, then drill and tap a hole through that - I can then use M5 machine screws to secure it - and bolts for the bottom ones which are awkward to get a screwdriver at becaues of the driver's seat being in the way. Will take a couple of hours to do, but should save me a lot of faff long term.

I think it's when you start thinking about that sort of detail that you realise that you've pretty much comitted yourself to a car being a keeper...

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Re: Zel's Fleet Blog - Xantia Activa, Lada Riva, Sinclair C5, Mercedes 208D, AC Model 70.

Post by Zelandeth » 25 Feb 2019, 20:46

I had been hoping to actually get out in the Invacar today, but by the time I'd got enough of the day to day jobs out of the way it became obvious that wasn't happening - well, unless I wanted to be out doing test runs at rush hour in the middle of a busy city - which just sounds like a recipe for disaster. Hopefully tomorrow...

With the car mostly fundamentally working now my attention is starting to shift to the list of far more minor bits and pieces which have been patiently waiting for some attention while I dragged the car back into the land of the living.

A couple of these items had just been waiting for me to make a quick run out to grab an assorted box of circlips to replace two which had vanished in the past.

Number one went on this end of the gear selector rod to stop it from falling out of the bracket.
IMG_20190225_181030.jpg
There's also been another attached just behind that bracket to prevent the whole lot from being able to wobble from side to side - important as the handle is really quite close to the seat frame and I don't want to have it touching the frame and causing yet another rattle or buzz in the cabin.
IMG_20190225_181445_1.jpg
I'll take it out at some point and bend the handle away from the seat very slightly, but that's very much on the "it would be nice to do some day" list rather than anything which needs immediate attention.

The second missing circlip has been added to the seat belt buckle to stop the bar in the middle of it from being able to fall out.
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This was never a problem when the belt was actually in use as the tension on everything held it in place - At least I don't need to remember which way to hold it when taking it off now though.

Only other task which has been done was to reattach the front cover. This had previously been held on with cable ties through the bolt holes, but is now properly attached.
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Not really much to be said about that! It is nice to have it done though, as I think having eliminated the cable ties - much like the rear valance - helps make the car look more like a car that's actively being restored rather than a wreck beyond all hope.