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Engine Pondering….

With the Rebel undergoing prep for painting we’ve started to think about building up a decent engine. This is no small task, During the last 8 months numerous engines (at least 12) and countless parts have been acquired with the intention of building a “tuned” 750cc motor, Unfortunately other than spending a impressive amount of cash we hadn’t actually made any progress on this front until recently…

The following photos show some of the parts we’ve been procrastinating over. The first set of photos show a Brand New 750cc engine block with balanced crank and flywheel, polished con-rods and strapped center main bearing. Its in its original packing case destined for Export and has no serial number.

These next three show a ex 750 Formula Race engine. Fitted with a Ford Kent oil-pump on a custom cast Ali timing cover driven off the front of the camshaft, Polished rods, strapped center main, lightened rockers, high lift cam and non vacuum distributor.

We bought this Early 600cc engine last year, Modified for 750 formula use it came with the following – All 3 main bearings strapped, High lift cam, fully lightened and polished crank and rods, hepolite pistons, ported head and lightened rockers and a full flow oilfilter conversion instead of the original bypass arrangement. The intention had been to use this engine but once we stripped it down it needed a fair amount of work, The block has cracked across where the center head stud thread is located (a common problem with reliant’s), the crank was badly scored and the liners were badly pitted on the outside where they’re exposed to the water-jacket.

Rather than use one of those engines I’ve decided to spend even more money on modifying the original 600cc engine that came with the car (the only reason i can come up with to justify this is that it has the right serial number on the side) The block has now been modified to take 750/850 liners and the current plan is to use a 750cc crankshaft rather than a longer throw 850 one to reduce piston speed and make it a bit more responsive on the rev front. The next stage will be to get the center head stud Tig welded up, steam clean the block and strap the center main bearing and modify the oil system to give better flow to the main bearings.

In the next post I’ll share some of the options for ancillaries, heads, cranks, valve-train etc!.

Anyone want to buy some race engines?  :D


Replacing the Side panels – Now Fitted

The van now has side panels!  :)

We spent the last 2 days putting the panels in and giving a rough coat of paint generally very pleased with the result, the fine fettling on the paintwork will be done in the future when the whole van will be repainted.

In other news the van is now tax exempt which took a while to sort the paperwork out with the dvla.

Now MOT’d

Spent the morning getting the blue Rebel MOT’d and have now clocked up 20 (painful) miles…!

Early start… our first attempt to reach the test station resulted in us heading back home having only covered a few hundred yards!  The Zenith carb and 850 engine combination proved to be un-driveable…

After spending some time swapping Jets over we finally made it to the test station.

It passed, with a few advisories: Bit surprised about the wiper blades as they were brand new, most of the other points were quite minor so all in all very pleased.

A few photos of the van taken on the way home, (wheels, tyres, starter motor, battery and petrol filler neck are on loan from the red rebel!)

Tools and assorted carb’s in the back, In total we stopped 4 times to attend to carb issues, Accelerator diaphragm burst resulting in changing it for a spare perished one and disconnecting the operating cam – made for a slightly gutless drive home!

Front view, note the slightly improvised choke cable… This rebel came with two windscreens- both were scratched but we’ve swapped for the spare as it is at least usable! New windscreen seal fitted too.

New seatbelts, these take some getting used to compared to modern inertia types!

Rear door, Hinges have been repair’d and a temporary doorlock striker plate fabricated up

Theres a very short video of the journey home here:

There a few bit still to be done – Tax class needs changing which will have to wait until after the bank holiday, Its currently registered as a Disabled Vehicle, Needs a SU carb to suit the 850 engine and possibly a 850 distributer too instead of the 700/750 items currently fitted. Engine front-plate still needs proper feet making up. The LUK clutch ultimately destined for the red rebel which is currently fitted wants swapping for a standard one which is on order along with a new starter, a proper choke cable would be nice as well as a new wiper switch so the self-park
feature actually works!. All that should make it a bit more usable.

After getting those bits done we’ll probably make up some panels for the rear to turn it back into a proper Van and sort out the other bodywork bits. Major suspension/chassis overhaul is not a current priority and will happen in the longer term.

Running and Driving

This last post brings the Rebel Van photos up to date with the van running and moving under it own power.

Rad filled with water, a borrowed battery off a Scimitar

Checking the Electrics, Terminals were cleaned and some modified wiring removed and everything came back to life, The fan motor switch is dodgy, and a new wiper switch would be nice but virtually everything else electric works.

The front brake pads never arrived in time to fit them bleed and check the system but we decided to try and get the engine running anyway. Photo Here shows Dave priming the carb

We were missing the starter so it took half an hour of pushing up and down to get the engine running, after a few false starts it fired up… Just as well as really as rebel with hard crossplys on the front and slightly flat radials on the back is quite hard work to push!

The Video:

The Carb is wrong as its a Zenith and it should have an SU, As a result it doesn’t want to idle on it’s current settings. A decent play with the idle screw will probably make workable in the short term. It sounds fooked but its probably just the timing chain tensioner, It needs a new water pump as too as the current one pisses water everywhere.

The MOT Jobs list is something like this:

Replace windscreen – (current one has severe scratches, new one came with the car)
Fit new seatbelts – old ones are a bit frayed
Starter Motor – Because push starting is too much like hard work
Water Pump – May borrow this off the rebuilt 850 sat on the bench in the garage to save £££”S
Timing Chain tensioned,
Proper Engine mounts making,
Replace rubber filler pipe – Old one had dissolved.
New Tyres, – The van will probably inherit the Rostyles off the Red Rebel as Dave doesn’t like them the red rebel will then get something different.
Replace Rear door, – Requires a repair to one of the hinges
Source new numberplate and test numberplate light.
Fasten remaining chassis bolts down – needs more 1/4 inch unf bolts
Probably paint the rest of the chassis as some against protection against the winter roads.

Fitting an Engine

When the van first arrived we ordered the first lot of parts and so far the Rebel and so far the list isnt too long:

Handbrake cable, – Supplied but the Kitten Register thanks Brian
Radiator, – bought a new one for a mini
2 New Master cylinders – bought off the shelf from my local classic oriented motor factors,
A tail light, -
A starter solenoid,
Cylinder Rebuild Kits,
Replacement front cylinders – (turned out to be badly made pattern parts which did not fit,
Front Brake shoes, – Which still wave not arrived

Everything else we’ve uses is either stuff that came with the car of spares that were in the garage. or have been borrowed from the stock of bits intended for the other rebel.

Few Photos,

Master Cylinders, I think we were lucky to find these and they were the most expensive Item bought to date. They are not thought to be a common part with this combination of bore and sideways fixing. It would be possible to make adapter plates up to take more common land rover style master cylinder should availability be a problem in the future.

Exaust was removed to get a good look at the outriggers, It turned out to be stainless which was nice.

One of the 850′s that came with the Van was dropped in we don’t know much about any of the engines that came with the car except that this one was the most complete and seemed to have good compression. Old Rad being trial fitted to see how it should be mounted.

Dropping the engine in has revealed a difference in the engine frontplates between the Rebels and their 3wheeled cousins, This rebel was missing its original engine and so we are short of a Rebel front plate.

So for the time being temporary adaptor plates have been made, We’re now on the lookout for a front plate to suit a rebel.

Engine with new Radiator, The bracket over the rocker cover is the support for an improvised throttle cable, it was later cut down.

There was no starter motor on any of the engines we got with the car and our spare was to fit the later type 850 engine and had a different mounting bracket and 10 teeth in stead of nine.

Photo of Dave’s custom made radiator mounting bracket.