Friday 8 September 2023

Comrade Car - when the steering wheel only sends suggestions towards the wheels (part 12)

 Now it has to be said beforehand: Given the era in which this car was designed, the steering box is definitely en par with what would be fitted to a Series Land Rover or Jeep of the same vintage. But fortunately it's not the 1970ies anymore and Comrade was fitted with the deluxe French steering box, which was rather vague from the and has a very slow ratio. (But is admittedly quite a bit lighter than the stocker that I fitted in its place.) Unfortunately not only was it worn quite badly, but also rustproofing the underside of the car. 


For rather obvious reasons, when digging into the steering, there's little point in not swapping all the tie rods at the same time. When browsing around for spare parts, I found these reinforced track rod nuts. It should be rather apparent that they are quite a bit beefier than the stock bits (on the left), but also should save me from a bit of headache down the line considering that they fully enclose the thread and with some rather generous application of anti-seize adjusting the toe-in should still be doable without massive headaches in a year or two.

Surprisingly the old stuff came apart with relative ease.

Installation of the actual steering box though, is truly a two person job and yes the nuts have to be on the side of the wheel or you lose a lot of steering angle.

And with the steering done and the wheels aligned, it was time to do a bit more cosmetics. The steel wheels are pretty awesome - heavy, robust and... rusty.

A bit of black (gloss) Hammerite makes them look a million times better though.

And three and a half cans of underseal later, the underside of the car looked the part again as well.

Finally Comrade car wears his best clothes and looks the part. 

But will it pass the Austrian MOT, the infamous Pickerl?

Monday 4 September 2023

Comrade Car - carbs and exhaust (part 11)

 So the last post that dealt with a more close inspection of the old Comrade revealed that the exhaust hadn't magically healed itself and whilst shown quite a few times, I never showed off 😏 the cool carb I (unexpectedly) got. 

Now this is a 1700 tube-style header, which is the one everybody tells you to avoid in favour of both its older and newer siblings made from cast-iron as they are the more performance oriented solution. This one came in at the right price though and unlike the cast iron stocker I had before this one does not have a (clogged up) SLS-system installed. Which means it is one more step towards getting rid of clutter under the bonnet. With a bit of high-temp paint it actually looks the part.

So initially I had my fine share of issues with both carbs that were on the engine so far. First the stock Solex with ECONOMIZER (you have to say this in a fake Russian accent - make sure to pull the corners of your mouth down for maximum effect) and then a used Weber. Unfortunately both were pretty much rubbish. But then, as luck would have it, someone put me in touch with someone else who said: I've got this 2106 fully mechanical Weber. It's not worn out, but I removed it for a later one with vacuum secondaries for better fuel efficiency. If it doesn't work, you can give it back to me.

So this is it: the original bad boy carb of the Lada world. Manual secondary throttle blade, goes like stink, dirty as can be (on the outside, it was like new on the inside) and the performance... oh the performaaaaance. Seriously, makes you wonder why the Soviets chose a car that can best be described as "rather sporty sedan" as their standard means of four wheeled transport for the masses.

... and then there was this thing with the exhaust. So the mid-section-muffler was well and truly eaten a live and once I started shaking the rear-most one, I could hear that most of the internals were loose as well. Thx to a not very aggressive model policy (read that as: almost none for the 1600 Niva) and the exhaust being nearly identical to the Lada Nova you can still buy them new. For very little money. And in even poorer quality than you'd expect. So with plenty of paint I hoped (at this point) that most of the stories would be somewhat exaggerated and I at least had it rust-proofed sufficiently to make it work for a while.

In order to make it work first the old exhaust had to come off. Given the very rusty nature the sawzall made quick work of what was left. 

With Comrade being a post-1987 model, I also had to revert from the rather rare single-tube header to the much more common twin-long-tube header.

When I was referring to clutter and the SLS-system, this is what I meant (please ignore the wiring mess - at this point I was still trying to sort out various bits in the loom):

The tube poking up so prominently is the secondary air system (SLS) that allows for some fresh air to bleed back into the exhaust to raise exhaust gas temps and thus improve emissions. A system so incredibly successful, every manufacturer has long since abandoned it. But it requires multiple vacuum lines and is a beautiful source for all kinds of exhaust/inlet manifold leaks.

Freshly painted exhaust manifold in place. One thing I wasn't (fully) aware: the 1600 has got a heated inlet manifold to prevent carb icing, which is pretty cool, but also means, you're making a proper mess, when taking the inlet manifold off.

Once cleaned the manifold definitely looks the part.

... and with the SLS port blanked that should make starting a lot easier. (It did and prevented all sorts of other probably vacuum-leak induced malarkey.)

Things were looking pretty good until I attempted to install the actual exhaust header. 

I was forewarned that not only the finish, but also the fit would leave much to be desired. The best way I know of for finding the spots where it rubbed were to paint it, check for scrub marks and then some Newtonian persuasion. 

The mid-pipe wasn't exactly a perfect fit either, but then again only needed a single, well placed cut to point straight towards the back. 

And lastly the final muffler apparently isn't a huge fan of sitting very parallel under the car. I decided that this was absolutely intentional so that condensation would end up in one single corner. 

Compared to the rotten exhaust that was puzzled together from bits meant for various other cars this one is now leak free and oh so quiet. Really, really quiet. You know how a car gets even more quiet than quiet? Exactly, if it stops running. Turns out at least one of breather valves of the fuel tank was stuck, so a rather dramatic solution was found:

Obviously you don't want petrol seeping from the cap, so the rubber gasket was pierced in three locations which do not match the center hole in the gas tank cap. 

And with those changes applied Comrade needed a minor tweak of the idle screw and that was it. Starts like you'd expect it from a modern (fuel injected) car and runs very quiet. (At least as far as the exhaust noise is expected.