Engine and Gearbox mounting bushes

Recently the alternator hit the chassis when I changed direction, a good indication that the engine and gearbox mounts might need some attention. Unfortunately the alternator bearings were damaged due to this impact. I therefore ordered a new alternator (with the aim to rebuild the old one as a spare).

I then also changed the engine mounts & gearbox mounts. I used polyurethane from Duraflex (they sent the wrong bushes first time, but did swap them out after I sent them back for the right ones, did take a while before they responded to emails though so you’re aware if you choose to get some of these). The original engine mounts were supplied by Marlin so I didn’t have specific part references for them.

They are 35mm thick with M10 studs, the closest I could find were Land Rover Defender gearbox mounts. I ordered the โ€˜softโ€™ variant which is 70 shore. They had mounts for BMW gearboxes, went for the ’80 shore a’ ones which is the normal hardness option for the bush.

Land Rover gearbox mounts:–duraflex-urethane—-nrc9560-284-p.asp
BMW Gearbox mounts:–gearbox-mounting-257-p.asp

The engine is under much better control now, I get less oscillation / vibration into the front wings and feel better now when driving.

I also had two worn out cracking ball joint boots so I changed those too.


Gearbox Mounts

Old BMW bushes compared to the new poly bushes. The new bushes are a bit chunkier (same height)

Here’s the gearbox mount cross member – had to take this all the way out to get the new bushes in place, a little bit fiddly.

After some swearing the new bushes are in place with the cross member bolted back in.

As the new bushes are more chunky than the old one ones I had to use the deathwheel to grind down this spanner to fit between the chassis and the bush to hold the bolts when doing up the nuts inside the car.

Engine Mounts

Removed the bonnet and both side panels for this job:

Jacked up the engine after undoing the lock nuts until there was enough clearance to get the old bush out.

A comparison between the now deformed bushes and the new poly bushes. The studs are a bit longer on the new one so the engine needs to be lifted a little higher to get the new bush in (on the passenger / intake side)

On the driver/exhaust side the steering column linkage is in the way of lifing the engine high enough to get the bush out. It was much easier to take the 4 bolts out that hold the engine mount to the block and pivot it out the way.

Here with the new bush fitted and bolted down:

Alternator Change

Big ol hole where the old alternator was removed, added a small notch in the chassis here to allow more clearance in future.

I got the new alternator from in Denmark, mostly because I needed a glow plug control module for my daily and they were the only people in Europe that had stock at the time! The new one is very shiny!

New alternator in place, added a new v-belt while I was at it as the old one wasn’t brilliant anymore.   

Here’s the new alternator hiding away among intake and water pipes!

The really nice thing about the new alternator is that it charges straightaway after starting the engine. The old alternator needed you to rev up past 3000 rpm before it would start charging.

Ball Joints

These don’t last super long every few years I need to replace them, these were not damaged from dirt ingress yet so I was able to just change the boot (sourced from ebay ej-parts size 16/31/23). I did fit one new ball joint as I didn’t have enough time to wait for the boots to get it through the MOT this year so I was able to pick one up from Euro Car Part locally.

Yeahy rotten rubber (this is now an MOT failure, these might have squeaked through as they were not cracked all the way though, but it was time to change them):

One new ball joint fitted:

This ones pretty bad, but the ball part of the joint was still good.

New boot from ebay with the mounting hardware from the old boot

Reassembled, old ball joint with new boot:

Still to do are the differential bushes – the stock BMW M bush (from the Z3M) has a lot of movement, the centre mount hold is tearing out of the rubber. Additionally the ford TCA bushes used to mount the front of the diff to the chassis feel soft and are squeaking quite a lot. If you move the car by hand with a gear selected the diff does a nodding dog impression. I’ve got some poly bushes to install in the near future for that too.


Heater Fan Fix

For a number of years now the heater has caused problems with the fans moving out on the shaft and scraping against the side of the outer casing. The tick tick scraping noise can be heard even with the exhaust on the louder setting.

It’s finally time to fix it properly.

Step 1, spend a few hours swearing at hard to get to bolts to get the outer casing off and the wiring disconnected.

Here’s the culprit – right next to where it’s supposed to be stuck to.

It moves out here and scrapes on the case.

Decided to use a few different methods, first drill a 2.4mm hole down the end of the shaft.

Tap the hole using set of M3 taps.

Test fit (this is a super long bolt, use a much shorter one)

Added a number of washers

This will stop the fan from moving off the end of the shaft.

Then to add a bit more security roughed up the motor shaft and the inside of the fan, then used some epoxy to keep the fan on, and the washer on and the bolt in place.

Reassembled the whole lot:

Put a fresh connector on for the earth (had to cut that to get fan off the car, with the scuttle panel in place it’s hard to get to some of the wiring).

Re-arranged the wires, new connector for the earth and zip tied everything back up.

Heater snapped back together, bolts put in and the 6 metal clips back on. Used tape to seal the front panel and connected up the window de-misters.

Re-installed the headunit

And now it’s back to looking like nothing happened.

On the plus side I can use the heater again without it being super irritating!


2019 MOT – handbrake failure and fix

So the MOT tester is a beast of a man and ripped both handbrake cables clean off the mounts! Better it failed here than in an emergancy though.

The orginal handbrake adjusters are bolts with the head of a bolt chopped, the end drilled with the lathe and a recess to capture the shorted handbrake cable with a spot of weld.

As the handbrake cables were now shorter than before the bolts were too short. These were extended by chopping the machines part off the old bolt and welded on to a new bolt making it longer. The recess needed drilling out again to remove old handbrake cable.

If this fails again it will need new handbrake cables.

The torn ends zipped tie down to make them easier to clean up for welding

Cables welded back on

Finally mounted back into the handbrake handle and adjusted. Hand brake retested with better results than the rear brakes!

The car was also failed on emission first time round as the machine was set wrong. HC limit for an 88 engine is 1200, it comes in around 650 – which as been the same for a numbr of years now. They incorrectly wanted to see less than 18 – keep an eye for that one, page 12 of this document is useful if you need paperwork:


Easy access

Working on the Sportster is great – such easy access to everything!




MOT time

It was MOT time this week. I changed the driver side ball joints as they had a warning last year, the lower one had noticeable slop.

I didn’t check the handbrake, or the driver side ball joints this year – guess what it failed on… hindsight a wonderful thing.

The rubber on the lower driver side ball joint was perished so failed on that. I replace the whole ball joint as I had spare ones.

The passenger side handbrake had no brake effect, on checking the cable seems to have stretched a bit and there was not enough thread to tighten it up properly, so put a space it and did them up.

Passed just fine with those two little fixes – could have avoided them if I’d spent a bit more time check the car over before the test.


MOT pass

Yesterday the Sportster passed it’s MOT. Testers were ready and waiting as they heard it coming!

Advisory on near side lower balls joint so I’ll be replacing that. He said there’s only a tiny amount of play but they’re relatively cheep parts which are easy to whip out with the airgun!


MOT Pass

MOT Pass – bar a slightly dodgy light on the rear number plate everything is fine

Might get some LED’s for the number plate lights and solder them in. The plastic ones I have are of very poor quality


MOT Time is just around the corner

Got my MOT reminder this week, time to stick the Sportster up on the ramps and see how its doing this year

Have noticed a few rust spots that need sorting on the chassis underneath the doors – this is a bit of a water trap. Rest of the chassis usually needs a tiny bit of surface rust cleaning up and painting.

Only other problems in times past has been the handbrake cables – the attachment to the level broken on one side last year, and the previous side the year before. Both are now welded so hopefully that will be fine this year

Only other issue that needs looking at is a sticky idle control valve, that’ll hopefully just need a blast with carb cleaners


Engine issues

My M20B28 started making loud high pitch noise. The pitch changed with RPM and seem to reduce under load. I thought it might be a loose belt or a shot bearing. Noise was located near the back of the engine.

After a an hour or so of poking around today it turned out the intake manifold gasket was leaking on cylinder 6.

I’m pretty sure it must have been a materials failure as I’ve not put that many miles on since the rebuild. Need to order new gaskets, going to do all of them to be sure. Some non-setting gasket sealer has shut it up as a temporary solution ๐Ÿ™‚


1st Aniversary of SVA pass

I can’t believe its been a year and 2300 miles already!

It’s been little turbulent in that time:

  • Shortly after SVA pass we lost a wing stay (oops)
  • During December a complete disaster with the lower wishbone.
  • While off the road we completely rebuild the engine enlarging the capacity to 2.8ltrs.
  • In March we finally got the new and improved parts to put the car back on the road, decided to get light weight Carbon fibre wings to avoid issues with the (albeit stronger wing stays).
  • From then on it was a pretty uneventful summer with regards to mechanical issues.
  • We visited a number of kit car and other cars shows which was great to finally have the car there rather than just looking at everyone else’s!
  • Recently it pass its first MOT with one issue to sort out (handbrake cable loose), no problems with emissions on the rebuilt engine which was great.

The car is fun to drive now that it’s had most of its teething issues sorted out (still one or two such as the clutch and pedal box assembly need strengthening)

To come in 2009 a paint job (I know I keep saying it but I mean it this time)