MOT Party, Track Rod Troubles and a Maddening Manifold

Lots to report today – some good, some bad as usual! Not posted much on the blog for a while as I’ve been doing jobs that are too boring to bother talking about. Fixing the driver’s door, spending £23 on new headlight adjuster screws, fixing the brake light switch and cleaning out the interior are not particularly exciting, so I did them without taking any photos.

The excitement returned last night when Jason and Dr Johnson came round to perform an unofficial MOT test for me. Since they were the pair who helped me drag The Duke’s rusting hulk down to Reading, it seemed only right that they be the ones to give him his first seal of approval… or not, as it turned out. Lorna prepared a reward for them in the form of The World’s Greatest Shepherd’s Pie.

Jason did the paperwork while Dr J ran round like a maniac, poking, prodding and probing round every nook and cranny he could find. We jacked up all four wheels and ran the engine in gear to free-up the brakes, poked around the chassis with screwdrivers, examined the body for sharp edges and wobbly bits and ran the usual lighting checks. All this was based on the official MOT procedure which I printed out from this website.

In the end they failed me. Here’s a list of the problems they found…

  • Headlight wiring (I knew about that one, just haven’t had a chance to fix it yet)
  • Indicator telltale (Maybe not a problem, but they both flash regardless of direction)
  • Track rod end rubber cover/boot (split)
  • Track rod bent
  • Brake/clutch pedal rubber pads missing (Another one we’re not 100% on, but may be a problem)
  • Flexi brake hoses (x3) look very old! (Advisory only)
  • Trim under passenger door (Not bolted in place)
  • Body tab/outrigger (Not yet fitted – waiting for some bolts from eBay)
  • Valance – both sides (Not secured)
  • Exhaust blowing at manifold

So today I had lots to look at. None of it massively serious, just loads more work to do. First off was a trip to Halfords to get some exhaust sealing putty for the manifold-to-down-pipe join. I also picked up some red oxide primer and two five litre bottles of engine oil.

First job was to squish some putty into the crack between manifold and down pipe. Dead easy to do, though it makes your hands smell nasty. Left it for an hour or so to cure. While I waited I slapped a bit of red oxide primer on the new door channel bits I welded on a couple of months ago. They were already going rusty and Johnson gave me an ear bashing yesterday!


Once that was done it was time to start the engine and see whether the putty had done the trick. It had. A great job and well worth the £5… except… there was still a blowing sound round the manifold… time to start worrying…


Then I found this whopping great crack in the manifold itself. No chance I’ll get away with smearing that with putty for the MOT, so it looks like I’m going to need a whole new exhaust manifold, down pipe and all the fittings that go with it. Major pain in the backside, but nothing I could do today except perhaps spending the evening pricing up the parts.

So, I carried on with the jobs in hand. Next was to do an oil change. Dead easy, all the bits were as good as new, since they live in a bath of oil. The sump plug came out with only the subtlest of hammer-tickles and the filter came off all too easily – dropping in the oil bucket and splashing me and the drive with a couple of cups full of ancient engine oil! It took about eight litres of new oil to fill the engine back up and I bunged in a new filter too. The oil light came on for about five seconds after I started him, then went off as expected, so I assume the oil is flowing round the engine as it should.


Final job today was to get the track rod off. Research on the internet this morning confirmed that it is indeed bent and will need replacing. Luckily, replacements aren’t too expensive and I think I can get the whole job done (including new ball joints and boots) for under £50.


Should have read the manual to get instructions on how to remove the track rod – turns out you twist it off the two bolts at each end (which have opposite threads to allow this). I spent far too long bashing with the hammer before I realised how it works.

So, as I said earlier, some good news and far too much bad news. A good few days of hard work needed to get the exhaust manifold replaced and a few more odd jobs to do round the body before The Duke and me head to the MOT centre!

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