First start

The time had come to try and get the car started. This turned out to be a multi-day saga, as so often has happened on my build, but I’m sure that is not unusual. I originally planned to take some time off work, work through all the prep and get it running in a single afternoon. That did not happen.

Before that though, I decided to check I had some proof of working electrics, so I dug out the bolts, washers and nuts for the battery connectors from the Misc Metric pack and connected it up.  I turned on the ignition, turned the battery master switch, noted that the immobiliser had sprung into life, and tried the horn.

I just about jumped out of my skin – it was very loud in the enclosed garage. Check complete though!

Happy with this, I started the prep for the first start a couple of days later by adding the fluids:

  • Oil: I ended up putting just under 6 litres of oil in the engine, despite the capacity shown on the documentation as 4.5 litres. A check with Derek done by Nick of the CTG reassured me this was normal. A warning came with the information though – it’s very easy to overfill once the oil shows on the dipstick, and the clean oil is hard to read on it too.
  • Coolant: I put about 4.5 litres of coolant in, including back-filling the heater as per the instructions in the manual. I used one of the plugs that came in the heater pipes to block off the open end of the inlet hose while back-filling. The heater took over 2 litres, and could have taken more, but I decided to stop at this and let it bleed out later, rather than have coolant spill as I reconnected the pipes. I’m pretty sure it was draining down into the system by this point. I put the rest into the expansion bottle, and much of it ran away into the system. I made up some more (it’s a 50/50 mix) ready for when the engine is running as I had read it it self-bleeds.
  • Petrol: I put 20 litres of petrol into the tank. I bought a 10 litre jerry can, so two trips to the petrol station to fill it up. I later found out (thanks Jason) that you can legally carry 20 litres if the container is metal.

With this engine now “wet” there wasn’t much left to stop me from starting it, so I did the final checks: disconnected the inertia switch, climbed in (still feels awkward), switched on the ignition, then cranked the starter to check for oil pressure. No pressure showed on the gauge as I cranked for over 20 seconds. Oh no.

I stopped cranking, turned off the ignition, and then back on. The other dials did a sweep on ignition, but not the oil pressure. So, it’s either a broken dial or sensor issue, or there is something up with the wiring loom, in order of ascending pain in the arse.

After taking a break, I removed the dial (which was easier then expected – it simply unscrews from behind the dash) and broke out my multimeter. I was quickly able to tell the dial was getting voltage when the ignition was on, so it looked like the loom was OK. Largest pain ruled out.

I decided to switch the oil pressure and coolant temp gauge around to see if this proved anything. The oil pressure dial refused to budget when the ignition was primed, but connected to the oil pressure sensor wiring, the coolant temp gauge swept around. Result! It was looking more and more like the problem was the gauge itself. A quick email fired off to Derek and a new one was in the post.

The dial arrived on the Tuesday, and so I could not help myself but nip out to the garage in the howling gale that was blowing (thanks Storm Doris) and try again. With the suspect dial replaced, I got oil pressure when cranking; 3 bar indicated on the dial. There was nothing else to do but try and start it. Inertial switch replaced, I climbed in again (still feeling awkward) and turned the ignition on. The fuel pump sprang into life, then it was time to hit the big red button.

I ran it for about a minute then stopped the engine, chuffed as could be, to dip the oil.

She lives!

2 thoughts on “First start

  1. Congratulations on first start Rob. Looked like a nervous few turns and then … success – well done; must be a great sense of satisfaction to get it to this stage

    I’ll look forward to reading about your first drive!


    • Thanks Alan! I was getting worried when I could smell petrol but it hadn’t fired up. Then one cylinder caught, then another, then she was off. It is a great sense of achievement, I am still buzzing from it now. The next big milestone is the IVA test. I’m looking forward to that one already. Thanks for reading the blog, I hope you are enjoying it. Please keep on commenting.

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