So today was going to be day when all the bits and pieces we had been preparing were going to be put together, and I was optimistic that by the end of the day, we would have a running Pinto engine.

First job was to drain the old coolant.  Turns out there was very little actual coolant in the system, just a couple of jugs of dirty, gritty water.

bowl of dirty water

Then to attend to that service we tried to do some months ago.  Oil emptied, filter dropped and changed.  And a new 13mm socket knackered with the old sump plug which has now become its conjoined twin.

oil filters

oil pan

sump plug bolt

With that done, the apprentice found an angle grinder and took to reducing the payload of filler on the wheel arches.  I put the rest of the head together, installing the new thermostat, housing, studs and manifolds.

inlet manifold gasket

inlet manifold in place

exhaust manifold fitted

We took a hint from Fast Rust on Youtube (link here) to cut the heads off some old head bolts (he suggested four, but we only managed two because we only had a hacksaw before we found the angle grinder), cutting a flat groove in the tops and using them to line up the head gasket before installing the cylinder head.  Then when the head is on and (most of) the new head bolts are located, you can simply unscrew the bastardized bolts with a flat head screwdriver.  Genius.

head gasket fitted

On went the carb (with a new gasket) and the cacophony of pipes, wires and hoses were reconnected as best as we could remember.

cylinder head fitted

Then came the final checks under the rocker cover, installing the new gasket in the cover and installing it, and (eventually) getting the cambelt installed.  Also filling up with a bit of flush and lots of de-ionised water.  Spark plugs back in as well as installing some shiny new ignition leads, because over the winter, the bleedin’ mice/rats/foxes/bears [delete as applicable] decided they tasted quite nice!

all fitted

Now we would have been at the point to start the engine up, but as luck would have it, the battery was flat.  Why luck?  Because that night when I got home, fell into bed aching like nobody’s business, I remembered that I hadn’t torqued the camshaft sprocket bolt, because I was waiting for the cambelt to be installed to get the necessary resistance (this camshaft did not have the special lug like the original does).

The next day (Bank Holiday Monday) we took a brief trip back over to take another look.  With the cambelt on, torquing the camshaft bolt was a breeze.  Except it also revealed I hadn’t tensioned the belt properly, it took up the slack, and knocked the timing alignment out.

After some furious expletives because I apparently could not adjust the tensioner whilst the belt, thermostat housing and rad hose are in place, we went home.

Next plan… disconnect rad hose (and only spill a bit of fluid), remove thermostat housing (because we didn’t have the Haynes manual with us and I don’t think I installed the thermostat the right way around), correct the alignment and tension the belt properly, then stick it all back together and cross my fingers!