Monday, September 26, 2016

Congestion Zone in London - The FOI request that exposes the handy racket business

There are big signs with big red 'C' letters to let you know you are driving into the zone.
However visible sometimes when we drive our attention is taken away on our driving and we miss a big sign. This happens a lot when driving in big cities and even more to those who come rarely to such big city.
A number of people who are unsure whether they went inside the zone decide to pay the charge rather than face a fine. In other words some people pay the charge although they didn't drive in the zone.
There is no system in place for TFL (transport for london) to be able to tell whether a car has been driven inside the zone or not; except when issuing the fine.

The FOI request is a compelling read on the subject.


[Internet quote:]
"It is well enough that people of the nation do not understand our banking and monetary system, for if they did, I believe there would be a revolution before tomorrow morning."
Henry Ford.

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

A trip from UK to Mongolia in an ex Postie LDV Pilot van!

A good watch with this documentary about a trip from UK to Mongolia in an ex Postie LDV Pilot van! Enjoy! May it inspire you and make you laugh.

Friday, August 19, 2016

A procedure to help you fault find your gearbox & manual transmission problem(s)

Gearstick stiff? Gears Not engaging? Soft clutch pedal?

If your clutch pedal is down or soft it could be a lack of pressure in the hydraulic system (hydraulic system=fluid reservoir+slave cylinder+pipe+master cylinder ). 

But this would be guessing an guessing with mechanic repairs is waste of time, energy and money.

1/ check the clutch fluid level in the reservoir > If level is low there might be a leak

2/ check for leaks around all connections of the hydraulic system. Clean up everywhere and give it another chance to leak (time or a little ride?) so it becomes visible.

 If you find a leak there might be air in the system > This make the clutch hard to operate.

3/ Bleed the air from the system (it’s an easy task and this potential fault will be either fixed or ruled out).
For bleeding there are 2 ways : 
1/pumping the clutch pedal method
2/using a one-man-bleeding kit
(google these or I can send you links on how to do this)

If bleeding doesn’t sort the problem out, it can be due to either the slave cylinder (at gearbox bell housing level) or the master cylinder (fluid reservoir level) or both. Although these 2 are strong and don’t usual fail. Mechanics often replace both. (BUT for us LDVers it can prove difficult to find the right part - but not impossible). Check out (they stock rover parts which is what we have on our pilots SD1rover gearbox LT77 or R380 - check the manuals on LDV files).
If you need replacing parts you will first need to identify your gearbox (a ref number is stamped on it and you can cross reference it with manuals)

This is the easiest bits to do. As in where you don’t need to take the gearbox down to replace parts inside (although this is not very hard to do but more work).

The next easy is to check and replace the selector shaft yoke (although this is hard to find new).
If the cylinders are ok, it can be the nylon bush in the selector shaft yoke (nylon wears off but you need replace the whole yoke as what Im holding on photo).

you might as well check the levels of AND replace the gearbox oil (with the correct one). I have a good link for a video on how to do this and which oil to use assuming your gearbox is a R380.

If none of these work out, It can also be  the clutch arm pivot, the fork, or even the clutch disc that need replacement.  All these are inside the gearbox.

That's a near enough diagram of your hydraulic system so you get an idea (I assume your Pilot is similar to mine from your photo).

note: I try the best I can to follow professional experienced mechanic guidance and advices but I'm NOT a qualified mechanic, this is what I figure out as I work on my vehicle using all available help around me, real people, written manuals, online videos etc)

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Dim-dip lamps

Looking into the electrics manual of the LDV pilot van I had to check out what "Dim-dip" meant... Wikipedia holds the answers... "Dim-dip lamps UK regulations briefly required vehicles first used on or after 1 April 1987 to be equipped with a dim-dip device[37] or special running lamps, except such vehicles as comply fully with UN Regulation 48 regarding installation of lighting equipment. A dim-dip device operates the low beam headlamps (called "dipped beam" in the UK) at between 10% and 20% of normal low-beam intensity. The running lamps permitted as an alternative to dim-dip were required to emit at least 200 candela straight ahead, and no more than 800 candela in any direction. In practice, most vehicles were equipped with the dim-dip option rather than the running lamps.[37] The dim-dip systems were not intended for daytime use as DRLs. Rather, they operated if the engine was running and the driver switched on the parking lamps (called "sidelights" in the UK). Dim-dip was intended to provide a nighttime "town beam" with intensity between that of the parking lamps commonly used at the time by British drivers in city traffic after dark, and dipped (low) beams; the former were considered insufficiently intense to provide improved conspicuity in conditions requiring it, while the latter were considered too glaring for safe use in built-up areas. The UK was the only country to require such dim-dip systems, though vehicles so equipped were sold in other Commonwealth countries with left-hand traffic.[38] In 1988, the European Commission successfully prosecuted the UK government in the European Court of Justice, arguing that the UK requirement for dim-dip was illegal under EC directives prohibiting member states from enacting vehicle lighting requirements not contained in pan-European EC directives. As a result, the UK requirement for dim-dip was quashed.[37] Nevertheless, dim-dip systems remain permitted, and while such systems are not presently as common as they once were, dim-dip functionality was fitted on many new cars well into the 1990s. The Jaguar XJS used this system, including the final Celebration models produced up until 1995" source: wikipedia article

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Battery university

My van has a Blue Varta E11 74aH 680cca.
I just wanted to say it.

It has forced me to learn about electrics.
It's become a love/hate relationship.
I'm still the boss.
But... I had to shut up, be a good boy and learn so I don't become a 'part changer'.
Anyway these are two of the not so common bits I learned about car batteries.

12V batteries can have 'shorts' in themselves. Check out the video by mr-fix below.

"Check if your cars battery drain is caused by short circuit. Dirt, grease and moisture can create conductive layer that will slowly kill your cars battery, cause bad engine start or low voltage in the system.
Watch this tutorial and check your cars battery. It's quick and simple, you don't need to visit dealer or service. All you need for this test is a multimeter." written by mr-fix.

Full power accessories and short distance driving habits cause battery failures.
This article explains in detail what causes such battery failure that is not often talked of.
It is definitely a recommended reading to anyone who has been scratching their head for over 3 hours of poking around in the hope of reviving a no starter vehicle.

Battery University: "What causes car batteries to fail?"
Here is an excerpt:

"The battery remains a weak link and the breakdowns on 1.95 million vehicles six years or less are as follows:

  • 52% battery
  • 15% flat tire
  • 8% engine
  • 7% wheels
  • 7% fuel injection
  • 6% heating & cooling
  • 6% fuel system

A breakdown due to the battery remains the number one cause.
* Source ADAC 2008 for the year 2007"

Sunday, June 26, 2016

Another rainy day and a van not starting

It happened again.
Today (2 months later) after the van having sat under torrential rains for a couple of days, it refused to start and displayed the same symptoms: glowplugs get on but a clicliclic noise and no start + funny warning lights going on by itself for a while.

I was wrong. It never was the battery neg earth connection.

I swapped my glowplugs control and relay for a tested one so it is not the cause.
Ii looks more like it is due to a faulty relay (probably the warning lights one).
I am gonna do a thorough check of all relays and replace the bugger one.
For the time being I'll have to try to park on the other side of the vehicle because I believe when the road is bent and the van lean on the left, the rain water drips in and humidity accumulates, causing the relay to malfunction.
The van starts fine after a while (me doing long parasitic test, checking and wiping the relays and looking for the fault every possible where), hence that relay must be drying and when it's dry, everything is fine.

The video below is (imho) the best and most complete one on the topic on the tube.

It seems I have found the culprit.

I forgot that it's good practice to do as much diagnosing from the cabin.
I should have started there, with all doors shut.
I noticed that the driver's side indicator flashlight was flashing faster than the passenger's side.

The sound was similar to the one I heard from the relay.
I remember that touching the light bulb fitting once made something react when I was trying to figure out what was going wrong from the bonnet side.
So it clicked. I mean it clicked in my head.
and the friend who was my passenger at the time said it:
"you have a dead bulb".
I checked and he was correct.

It wasnt the earth, it wasn't the rain.
It was a defectuous old bulb that caused the circuit to disfunction.
It's replace with a new one now.
Let's see if anything else comes up!

Thursday, May 19, 2016

LDV convoy vans in London

Did you know there is an area full of LDV convoys in London?
North east london it is. This is home of the hasidic jewish community whose members own convoys for group transport (schools etc). They are really all over. They (the community members not the convoys) always look at my little pilot suspiciously or enviously when I go around there. There was one for sale lately but I didn't have a camera phone at the time. Now I was given one and there was only this blue beauty for sale!

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

A procedure to remove Burman 30-370 steering box on LDV Pilot 2003 (400 serie with DW8 peugeot engine)

Pilots' pilots.
Here is my two cents procedure and suggestions to remove your steering box on your own.
This is a long post so here is the start of it and I'll finalise it when I'll get more time.


  • Jack
  • 3 axle stands (one to support engine)
  • copper hammer
  • pitman arm puller
  • ratchet
  • 3/4W socket [drop arm]
  • 22mm socket [tie rod end]
  • lump hammer
  • 13mm spanner/socket
  • 14mm socket
  • 17mm spanner
  • 10mm
  • hex key [vaccum pump]
  • oil cap and container
  • tipex corrector
  • manuals (available free on LDV files)

First and foremost, immobilise your vehicle properly and don't go under until it's firmly and steadily set up on axle stands on a flat surface because since you have a van there are people who need you and they won't like you anymore if you are as flat as a pancake because it dropped onto your face as you were working under it to repair it. Stay in shape, make it stable!

Lift up front of van high as to have enough room for arm movements.
Take off driver side wheel.
Take down tie rod end from drop arm
method used: Bang Bang (see pic) but on the right spot (see other pic)

other methods: fork etc will write up later

Take down drop arm
method used: Pitman arm puller (less than £10 online)

other methods: 
Heat drop arm around shaft (risk! Not so much as to melt seal inside).Hit both side of drop arm with similar lump hammers.
will write up later

Get caps and empty containers ready to stop and deal with oil spills.
Unscrew 2 pipes from box (from reservoir and from high pressure supply pipe), leave short pipe on as it’s connected to box only. Leave to empty itself.

In cabin, remove dashboard part under steering wheel (and around ignition barrel?).
In engine bay, put steering column to straight and mark placement of shaft with steering column coupling shaft to remember (I use tipex corrector) [check manual around this issue as I think it can be worked out in some other way when refitting but always good to make marks in case it helps] and remove completely pinch bolts from steering wheel shaft.

In cabin, support the steering column and remove the 2 nuts and plate that hold the column (note that here you might have to remove a plastic part that connects the shaft to the body where it goes through to the engine bay. I think I read it’s recommended to do this before removing the nuts and plate - it’s broken and missing on mine so I didn’t have to). No need to disconnect any but watch out for cables and not to reap any off.

plate/bracket supporting column above


broken bit on mine

steering column coupling shaft out from steering box upper shaft (above)

Pull shaft up until about 3/4 inches are left on engine bay side (or whatever is enough to get steering column coupling shaft out).
Disconnect the high pressure supply pipe from the engine crossmember (clips)
SUPPORT THE ENGINE PROPERLY (see manual and pancake story at beginning of this post)
and undo the 2 bolts and  the plate at bottom of steering box.

Remove 3 bolts holding steering box.

Remove the vacuum pump (very easy 1 bolt, 1 hex bolt)

Getting the box out.
Method I used:
Get a copper hammer (thanks Tony Norbury for this and many more tips) and hit at the bottom of box on the side facing the back of the van.

That should rotate the bottom of the box upward toward the front of the van
so you can access the 2 bolts of the box lower mounting fixing where the crossmember was connected.

At the start I did hammer the box down from the top, hitting on the place where the hole for the right hand top bolt was (when still in place) This made it rotate a bit more but not that much and it was noisy, exhausting and not so efficient so I came up with the following solution.

This is what I called the Gap of Hope. The rotation started showing some progress. and my biceps to cry.
Also the lower little white arrow show where I was hitting to rotate the box in the opposite direction.

Get a L-shaped bracket (thick metal) with a hole of similar size to bolt. The shortest the short side of the L shape is the better I reckon, and the longest the long side is best too but not crucial as it can be extended.
You should also find a short bit of metal with similar thickness to even up pressure from the side of the other bolt - so as not to bend the original plate.
Bolt this bracket and the short bit under the plate where the crossmember was.

You have made yourself a lever and you can now rotate the box indefinitely until it comes out.
Lubricant where/when possible helps. There was quite some rust around mine.

You can remove the box one out from under through where the vacuum pump was.

Think the box outside.
Amazing power of the mind.

Many thanks to all from Club LDV who have helped with ideas and suggestions all throughout.

Now for the refit...

Saturday, April 23, 2016

Toolbox of Land Rover videos for LDV vans owners

I have found this youtube channel (below) very useful and informative:
Land Rover Toolbox Videos
The videos are professionally made, clear and to the point and have lots of tips.
It has  helped me find out about my gearbox and steering so far.

Here is a video that show how to refill your R380 gearbox oil:

and one about steering check basics:

Check it out!

As Darren from Club LDV often reminds us (!!!), LDVs has lots in common with the Rover SD1
(they share British Leyland group heritage) - Rover SD1 infos and more infos

Although they know little about LDVs they do have corresponding parts (at cheaper cost) so you might want to take a look at the Rimmer bros online shop that sells SD1 parts.
(Note: This is NOT advertising, just sharing knowledge).

Sunday, April 10, 2016

Assume nothing but TEST everything! Parasitic draw test, relays, glow plugs, earth connections, etc

Check your earth connections first!
and assume nothing but test everything!

Preheating - glow plugs control unit and relay
(9639912580-G CARTIER) - Pricey when new but can be found second hand and tested
for a LDV Pilot van (DW8; it fits many other vehicle, check for yourself)

Once more it was the earth, the same battery earth that was causing the engine not to start.
I had readjusted it a few days before the engine went and it looked fine.
For this reason I looked at everything else, read all the manuals, cleaned all possible connections (even bought a replacement Preheat control unit), performed a parasitic draw test for all fuses and relays; checked all fuses and relays (post with video on checking relays here).

Eric the car guy explains how to perform
a parasitic draw test
in the above video.
This is what you need to do if your brand new battery keeps going flat overnight.

If need be one has to check the various relays of the vehicle.
This video is probably the best and most complete one on the topic on the tube.

and in the end as I was doing the test, seeing that I had no draw and being clueless.
I thought I've been cleaning up everything electric around so let's just undo this battery negative earth connection, clean it and grease it up.
Next thing the van start (with a tongue in cheek look).
Made me feel like an idiot but as long as it started I'm happy and delighted I learned so much about my van's and 12V systems in general!

[EDIT:] It never was the battery neg earth connection. Today (2 months later) after the van having sat under torrential rains for a couple of days, it refused to start and displayed the same symptoms: Glowplug get on but clicliclic noise and no start + funny warning lights going on by itself for a while.

I am 99.8% sure it is due to a faulty relay (probably the warning lights one).
I am gonna do a thorough check of all relays as in the video above and replace the bugger one.
For the time being I'll have to try to park on the other side of the vehicle because I believe when the road is bent and the van lean on the left, the rain water drips in and humidity accumulates, causing the relay to malfunction.
The van starts fine after a while (me doing long parasitic test, cleaning the relays and looking for the fault every possible where), hence that relay must be drying and when it's dry, everything is fine.

Saturday, January 30, 2016

How many perfectly working spark plugs have we discarded?

Needless to say I bear a lot of guilt on the subject..
The video underneath from ElectronicNmore  show us how to determine whether a spark plug is a working one or not.
Just about time!
Big thanks to you ElectronicNmore guys.

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Cure to the frustration of rounded bolts and nuts!

Yet another life-changing tip from Scotty Kilmer (his website) in one of his videos.
Personally I never had many good tools to work on mechanic "projects" and when I started to get a handful of decent ones I still couldn't get my head around this frustrating situation of a rounded nut or bolt, whether on bicycles, cars, vans or whatever that's held with nuts & bolts.
This is like an epiphany to me! That tool's inventor I want to hug!
Check out the video below to know the full story.

Thanks a bunch for that one Scotty Kilmer. Here is Scotty's video channel. Some people comment that they can't take the way he speaks. I only see a lot of life, positivity and no nonsense in his tone (which I like it if you asked me but you didn't) and it also comes from the video editing that is fast and furious. He also does Live talk as mechanic online.
As a film-making enthusiast I ought to ask him who is the videographer behind the youtube content and how they work together on the script!

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

How to deal with rusty stuck bolts - Tips from a mechanic

Almighty ever energetic Scotty Kilmer gives out a great tip for LDV vans DIY owners in his video!
He uses heat from a torch!
Check it out!
Are you asking yourself why I am using so many of those these marks !!! at the end of my sentences!!!?

I am a fan!!!

(I couldn't resist drawing that one for my cartoon and caricature blog.)

Friday, November 20, 2015

New LDV files website and forum online

Here the link to the new LDV Files website that also have a forum announced by Michael Mc Donald who runs the LDV Files group of fb. The new website front page reads as follows:

"Welcome to Ldv Files - We have workshop manuals for the Pilot / Convoy & Maxus as well as a forum where you can discuss , the sherpa , 200 , 300 , 350 & 400 , Pilot and Convoy & Maxus.
As well as all this you can browse videos , your vans , self builds , selling page and a lot more ( even camping recipes ) 

Click here to go to the FORUM"

Long live to this new forum.

The LDV Sherpa II forum remains available.

Monday, July 13, 2015

Conversion tool for your mileage and more motoring conversions UK, US

Look no further and try this converter site. It works well for me (found one eventually).
Plain and simple
Handy to figure out your fuel consumption if you are going on a journey.

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

LDV Pilot van - Squeaking serpentine belt

Chirp! Chirp! Chirp!
My current unresolved problem probably caused by (me)splacement and probably misalignment too which happened I presume when I replaced the belt.
This video from the Dayco videos serie is helping me out.

So far, I took the belt out and re-placed it but to no avail. I noticed a wear on one side, edge of the multi grove belt (referred to as sidewall wear in the video). Some of the worn out rubber seems to have accumulated in and around the alternator too. I cleared it out.
I check manually that all pulleys, discs were sound and to the right tightness. It feels steady but probably needs better checking but no wobble.
I also noticed that on the tensioner roller I can see misalignment of the belt and can't do a thing about it.
My next step will be to take the belt of and listen and I will need to take the brake vacuum pump (shorter) belt to do that.
My guess is that my tensioner is worn someone. Let's see.

Review your belt and pulley basics with Eric the car guy's video and understand why, although it doesn't stop you from using your vehicle, it's not a good thing to use it with a noisy belt for too long as it directly can affect the timing of your engine resulting in more consequent and costly damages to essential parts of the engine like the camshaft itself.

and this is from Chris Fix which I will need in case my "diagnosis" (guess) is correct. That's another belt and tensioner replacement cost.

(Let me transcript this last video bit as it's too fast spoken for me to get it clear)

Diagnosing with water bottle spray

  • Run engine (keeps your fingers, limbs, hair, loose clothing away!)
  • Spray a little water on the inside rib of the belt (direct to pulley's groves)

If noise stops - the belt is still moving, the pulleys are still moving:

  • NOT a bearing problem.

If the noise does NOT change:

  • A bad bearing in a pulley
If the noise gets LOUDER:

  • Belt tension is too tight or too lose
  • which could be due to a bad tensioner pulley
  • or could be due to a worn/stretched belt

LDV Pilot with a DW8 pug - A silent video on changing a head gasket

It is not the best tutorial (also because it's subtitled in french) but it gives you a good idea of the amount of work involved to change a head gasket on a DW8 peugeot engine.

LDV Pilot van - Engine oil leaks? Viscosity, Honey and Water on the menu

I finally managed to get enough little coins to do an oil change to my dear LDV Pilot van.
And since I'm getting bigger oil leaks. One around the head gasket, two around the gearbox...
Here's a video from Eric the car guy that explains what's happened.

He speaks about the difference between liquid flow rate and viscosity; and about the mix of oil and combustion gases that wear the gaskets, rubber joints and metal parts. Those are the main culprits!

His very articulate way of sharing his knowledge and experience through talk and video works very well for me, it might as well for you.

Looks like there a gaskets replacement session ahead!

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Engine epihany and anatomy with a very instructive video on the basic of engines parts

Recently I'm having an epiphany. I am starting to understand how engines works (it's about time).

That's thanks to a lot of hours reading, listening and watching as well as keeping my nails dirty.
It's not like I have a choice; I got two engines (diesel and petrol) and no money to pay for a mechanic and do my Qigong routine each morning to nurture my self-confidence and solution finding mindset as opposed to giving in to despair and disproportionate amount of colourful language.
This formula seems to work with lots of advice and guidance from anywhere I can get.

Now I am re-watching the video below from Eric the car guy (who's on that big online social network) and it's making sense (!). I can feel the shifts in my brains when I hear camshaft and timing belt. Enough about my godly revelation, here is the video:

(Thanks for all the work you put in doing these videos Eric.)

Gearbox - How does a manual transmission clutch work?

What is a manual transmission clutch and how does it work?

If you are like me you can drive for years and have a 'feel' or a basic understanding of that is a clutch
but you still don't understand what it really is on a vehicle and how it operates.
I'm done with daily use of things I don't understand so I looked on the net for readings and among others, I found this article and very straight to the point video from Howstuffwork.
It tells and shows the various parts flywheel, crankshaft, input shaft, pressure plate, clutch disc and explains how friction is used to connect elements and get power to your wheels for spinning.

So now you should know what is really happening when you hear a horrible grinding noise:
it's the sound of the friction between the flywheel and the clutch disc which is made of ceramic based materials in today's cars (asbestos in some older cars).

If you still don't get it, have a read of this article about transmission on Howstuffwork
and watch more videos.

If you prefer real images to animations, watch Ericthecarguy's very articulate take on the topic