Frost damage

Talking to fellow Riley owners, finding a hole in that place of that size is not that unusual. Apparently frost is the culprit and with no core plugs that can give way to the pressure, the ice merely continues to expand and the 4mm cast iron in that area becomes the weakest spot. Who knew ice was so strong.

The solution? There are a number of companies out there that will cold stitch a crack in an engine which is a pretty clever modern solution to the problem and worth doing a search on the internet to see how they do it. But I don’t have a nice simple crack in the engine – i have a bl**dy great hole! A couple of companies said they could repair it by cleaning up the hole, fabricating new material into a suitable patch that would fill the hole and THEN cold stitching it but they said it would take them a few days of effort to make the repair and it wouldn’t be cheap. They would of course want the engine taken out the car and delivered to them. Obvious question – whats ‘not cheap’? The simple answer was ‘at least a thousand pounds’. Humph!

Popping back into conversations with the Riley racers – they further advised that the hole is probably not the only damage cause by frost at the time – there are probably other holes or cracks that i don’t know about yet. Oh great i thought, more good news. However, one trustworthy racer said he had a similar hole in one of his racing engines for around 4 years that he simply patched it with a plate using a number of 4ba bolts (about 5mm). Hurrah – thats what i am going to do then and i will see how it goes. A little bit of time and effort versus £1000.

So here we go…

First off – time to get rid of the useless ‘hot-tube’. This is literally a metal pipe that goes straight through the water jacket transferring warm air from near the exhaust pipe to the area around the original carburettor. Why? apparently it helped warm the manifold in winter. Downside? Being mild steel the pipe corrodes and all the water comes out! Solution? remove the old pipe (ah…easier said than done) then block off the remaining hole with a core plug! Hurrah i hear you say – so you also now have core plugs on both sides of the engine. Indeed I do – its nice to get a good result occassionally .

The picture below shows one very shiny new core plug and one not so shiny one that happened to fit.
 photo IMG_2565_zpsrwsnhwyb.jpg

Next cut a metal patch to cover the hole. What to make it out of…. oh look I have some 3mm brass plate, that’ll do nicely because i like brass and it won’t corrode. The plan is to create a simple rectangular plate, cut to size and shape with 6 (maybe 8) bolts to clamp it to the block sandwiching some hand crafted gasket material cut to shape.

Some more core plugs were used to assist with marking out the curves required to fit around the 2 core plugs previously fitted. Its jolly useful having spares sometimes –  then a lot of very boring filing… trial fit… filing… trial fit… filing… (it took hours!)
 photo IMG_2572_zpskx7rgbw3.jpg

Below is the finished patch ready for the mounting holes to be drilled. I have rounded the corners because i am considering NOT hiding the plate. It almost looks like it *should* be there, especially if I then accelerate the ageing of the brass plate like i have done elsewhere on the car. photo IMG_2573_zpsol1y3gu0.jpg

Before drilling any holes – I want to ensure the patch is perfectly flush against the block so I will use a thin skim of metal filler. This is fabulous stuff that dries so hard you can actually cut a thread in it – its not ‘body filler’ – more think of it being a resin based compound. Naturally, this would of course stick to the engine block AND the patch and i don’t want that to happen because i want to fit a gasket too. A nice trick here is to place cling film over the part you DONT want sticky stuff to stick to.
 photo IMG_2574_zpst27uksmq.jpg
Squish the plate into the goo, then when you lift away the metal plate you get this…
 photo IMG_2575_zpswioof1s5.jpgIt doesn’t need to be a perfect match to the edges of the plate so peel away the film and leave to set hard – then lightly sand it to take any high spots off
 photo IMG_2583_zps3xlrdzbn.jpg
The gasket material will now sit squarely on the flat filler and the flat plate – so all i need to do is drill the engine block to take all the mounting bolts and Robert is my Uncle…

Finishing  off the job will be in a few days when i know the metal filler is hard enough for me to drill through…


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