Once Alice had reached the milestone of 250,000 miles I thought it might be time for an engine rebuild. After some thought, I decided that I would acquire a disco engine to be rebuilt in defender guise and look at some upgrades while I was there. Ebay was, of course, the source of my donor engine. I was fortunate enough to find somebody desperate to shift an engine gearbox and transfer box from his drive as his neighbors were complaining.
Once I had collected them, I split the box and transfer box and moved them on as core units and then removed the ancillaries from the engine – stuff that was common to the Defender I kept as spares but other things, like the turbo and manifolds, I moved on. After all of this, the engine itself stood me at less than £100 – result.
The engine was then taken to Graham Hughes at Derventio Autocentre in Derby with instructions to strip it completely and report on its condition. I was pleased when Graham rang to say that the engine was in good overall condition and the bores and crank journals were all ok, definitely a result. I asked Graham to start the rebuild.
I wasn’t in a rush so to keep the cost down Graham kindly agreed to do the work between other jobs and I set about finding used parts such as manifolds and flywheel housing to compete the conversion. It turns out that defender 200TDI engines are like hen’s teeth and second hand parts are very hard to come by and hence expensive. I tracked down an inlet manifold but it cost more to buy than I paid for the original disco engine and gearbox! The prices of defender flywheel housings were stupid so we made a decision to use the original. As you can see from the picture, we renewed all of the hoses with silicon ones.
Once Graham had the engine built he kindly allowed us to use the lift in his workshop to carry out the engine swap. I got a motley crew together in the form of (Mr) Steve Field and (Uncle) Mike Hetherington and armed with fresh pastries we descended on Derby and set to readying the old engine to be removed. I had considered the possibility of swapping the chassis at the same time as replacing the engine but lead in times from the chassis manufacturers meant that this would push the engine swap back to after the summer and so that decision was effectively made for me. A cursory inspection of the chassis while the truck was in the air revealed that, although there were clearly some areas where work would be needed the chassis didn’t look too bad and I thought that I would possibly lift the body off over the winter and attend to it. Alice passed her MOT a few days later with only 1 minor welding job needed. More on this elsewhere!
We lifted out the old engine and removed any ancillaries that needed to be swapped, bolted these to the new engine and then refitted. Sounds simple and largely it all went without a hitch! It was good to have Graham on hand to lend an experienced hand as and when we needed him. Unless you have a workshop with a lift at home, I would definitely recommend striking this kind of deal with somebody. Steve and I had talked at length about how long the swap might take and had put the best part of the week aside (Tuesday to Sunday). But I was pleasantly surprised when Wednesday evening saw me and Alice motoring up the A38 after just 2 full days of work!
As part of the upgrade, I had the fuel injection pump rebuilt at Bob Beck Fuel Injection in Warwick, this is a small family run outfit but the turnaround was swift and their customer service was excellent. I opted to go for a full width intercooler and hybrid turbo as well and these were sourced from Allan Allard of Allard Turbo Sport. More about these and other upgrades in future posts.
“And the cost” I hear you ask! Well, I’m not one for keeping precise records of what I spend on my truck (that would be scary and Francesca might do something unmentionable to me if she knew) but a bit of mates rates from Graham meant that the bill from Derventio came to a very (seriously) reasonable sub £5k on top of this was the cost of the consumables such as hoses and second hand parts which I had sourced. Then there was approx £250 for the injection pump and in the region of £1000 for the turbo and intercooler work, so all in all change from £7k (and thanks to Mike who paid for the pastries).
Special thanks to Steve Field and Mike Hetherington for their help.
Author Mark Edwards