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Reliant North Cape Challenge 2008

Preparing for the journey - May 2007 - Part 1

Time to take the engine apart, my brother explains:.

Another month has passed and I have finally got round to working on the engine. The state of the engine when it was removed was bad, it was covered in old oil and still leaking as it sat on the floor.

Started today by removing the gear box and what a surprise, the bell housing was full of oil. How the clutch still worked I have no idea but it did. There is some wear left in the clutch and it has not been contaminated by all the oil coming out the back of the engine so it will be fitted back in. Before we go on our trip though a new clutch will be fitted a month or two before just to be on the safe side. This will mean that we should get no problems from here.

Once the gearbox was off I then removed the fly wheel to reveal the problem at the back of the engine. The rear seal was not even touching the crank which is why so much oil was coming out. With this stripped I then went to the front of the engine.

I removed the crank pulley and the water pump and the undid the front cover housing to revile and even worse seal. The front one was completely broken up.

I was going to replace the valve stem seals with the head in place but after removing the manifolds and seeing the state of the exhaust ports I decided to bite the bullet and remove the head. For anyone that has done this job before it can be a nightmare. I even have a engine block in the garage that is scrap as the head is stuck that tight onto the block.

I removed the rocker shaft and then undid the head bolts (No turning back now) Once all was undone I then used a small pry bar and levered the head and it moved a bit, thinking I was seeing things I did the other side and this also moved. So I placed down the bar grabbed hold of the head and gave it a wiggle and a shake and off it came (Oh joy). I donít think I have had a head come off so easy before (except the 1949 8cwt Reliant I work on but this donít count as itís a side valve engine).

Looking at the state of the block and head I would say that the head gasket had gone. Only instead of being between the oil and water as normal it was between the oil and cylinder which explains why it smoked so much.

Nothing more to do today now so I have gone in and sat to watch a film and have a beer.

John (or Sparesman2000 on R3w) has sorted me the gaskets and they should be here tomorrow so I can start the rebuild.

Go to May - Part 2


With this much oil in the bell housing, it is amazing the clutch worked at all.


A few of the valve stems had interesting splits in them.


With the head removed there is evidence that the head gasket was blown.


My workshop - a bench in the garden.