The Sump from Hell

by Andy & Helen Bell

A tale of one man's nightmare

Me and my sump have maintained an aloof, but none the less, meaningful relationship for almost 8 years. The arrangement, it held the oill occasionally pour in and I would do my utmost to avoid bringing it into contact with anything, especially the ground.

I'm not sure when it happened but the relationship has now unfortunately come to an end. Whilst separations of this type are often full of recriminations I believe that on this occasion I must take the majority of the blame. Well to be absolutely accurate Coventry Councils Road Repair contractors should take the lions share, it was after all they who left that massive great ramp on the ring road without a warning sign. So there we were two weeks out from the trip to France with a sump that whilst undertaking a herculean attempt to forfill its role in life, I for my part had not been able to do the same. Some of you may remember the recent article covering just this eventuality. Sorry, but I don't have the cutting or welding gear required to do full open chassis surgery ( or perhaps the courage ). Neither do I fancy total engine removal. It would have to be the only way I know, pure unadulterated GRUNT in a horizontal position.( More about kinky goings on later).

A few frantic phone calls It now being Thursday and I need to do it this coming weekend. Engine hoist ordered, gasket set collected ,5 litres of oil plus filter, the final element one ex Capri sump and oil pickup pipe skillfully removed to order at a local scrap yard.

Friday 6.30 pm all ingredients together and an incredible weekend to look forward to. ( Apologies to Paul & Gill in Somerset, we will get down to see you and it will be this year.)

Question ? How much black sludge forms in the bottom of an average Capri sump ? Answer. enough to fill a litre margarine tub. YUCK !

Two hours, one gallon of super unleaded and three rolls of kitchen towel latter, the Capri sump (to be known hence forth as CS) was ready to receive a coat of matt black paint. If it wasn't that it had the occasional dent in it you may even have been fooled into thinking it was new. Well almost. Why do they put that funny plate piece there, you know half way down the deep end ?

One very hot bath followed by a pint or to be more precise, 500 ml of the amber nectar, chilled exactly to what ever the fridge is set at , followed by 8 bliss full hours of sleep. This is going to be so simple !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Saturday 9.00 am .Bright and early, or at least by my standards for a Saturday. Front wheels on ramps back on axle stands.. Result a full 12 inches of space in which to work. ( No pit at the Bell household except for the one in the back garden. I'm still surprised that Helen hasn't discovered that lettuce seeds don't need to be planted at the bottom of a 6 foot deep hole How will the headline read " SEED PLANTING TRADGEDY. ! Husbands valiant efforts fail to save wife after shock seed bed collapse" See inside for full story. Run engine up to temp. Drop oil getting at least some into the strategically placed container. Disconnect all electrical, radiator hoses , OK I can send Helen out for more antifreeze later. Finally unbolt exhaust manifold clamp, two engine mounts and a gearbox makes three. Remove drive shaft and place to one side Position engine hoist and run 10 meter's of very bright yellow nylon rope between inlet and outlet manifolds and around the engine mounts. Take deep breath and start to lift ..One two... three Whole inches of clearance between the sump and cross member. Small piece of carpet between head and body and another inch and a half is gained.

Now for the unpleasant bit. Twelve ten mm bolts later, a little gentle persuasion delivered by a rubber mallet and its all ready to drop out. Reposition on floor lie back and slowly slide out the old sump. Good plan But don't work! ! ! Now I understand the need for the plate . To totally ..!!! !!! !!!!**.*. up anyone so naive as to thinking a sump replacement is an easy job which can be undertaken without removing the engine. The true purpose of the plate I have now discovered is not something sophisticated to do with oil circulation but serves one role only. To hang up the sump on the oil pickup pipe.

I remain convinced that this can be done without removing the engine all I need is another inch or so. Back to the hoist Ease the engine forward a little. Ever noticed what a pretty shape the water pump stamps in a radiator .Fortunately ifs a simple task to replace the radiator. A little more gentle lifting to gain height. Result A spreading pool of gear box oil. I'm learning a lot today. Lesson 23 was if the manual tells you to do something its probably because they have done it before and know how to avoid the simple cock ups. Next time I will put a bung in the gear box output housing. Working conditions are now deteriorating rapidly. On repositioning myself below the car I now have the capability to lay my head in antifreeze my feet in EP80 and that gooey feeling below my back must be Castrol GTX. Triple YUCK !

Half a dozen further changes of position, me and the sump, and that pick up pipe is still catching. Time for lunch and a rethink How will the ad run ., 8 year old Merlin 2+ 2 Excellent condition Engine requires slight attention".

Saturday PM. Lateral thinking needed here. Solution if you can't create a big enough gap to slide the sump out because of an obstruction remove the obstruction. With the sump rotated to the left you can get a good view of the pickup pipe mounting bolts. A 13mm on the side of the engine block and two 10mm onto the oil pump. 13m easy. Two 10mm not so good. A long reach socket on a 114 inch flexible drive will do nicely. But as I don't possess such a beast so pass me the open ender , good job my hands are fairly small .Finally after what seems a life time the pipe drops off and away comes the old sump. A few fond farewells and its into the bin .Decree absolute. Time for a celebration drink. Halfway here.

As we all know the CS is about an inch and a half shallower. Fuzzy logic suggests that since the pick up pipe is also shorter it could well work to my advantage in putting things back together. Fuzzy logic ******??******ing wrong!!!!!!!!!!!! Maybe Ford have positioned the plate across this sump a little higher just to frustrate me. Well its bl**dy well working.

Plan 2 reverse successful removal sequence. Position sump to one side, present pipe to oil pump not forgetting a new gasket .20 minutes of trying to align the two 10 m s on the pump end of things fold up the tabs to stop the bolts undoing. Almost there Sump gaskets already in place, big blobs of fluorescent orange instant gasket in the four corners where the side cork seals meet the rubber bearing cap seals . Sump up, bolt up, lower engine on to mounts. Easy just need to spend an hour or so in the morning reconnecting everything. Last task for today, just put the mount bolts loosely back in place. How strange' don't recall the mounts resting that high up. , maybe the engine is not quite upright. Check other side same high position . Inspection lap in hand and with very severe feeling of trepidation back under the car to find the CS sitting solidly on the chassis cross member. ***!!*** ***!!*** ***!!!*** ***!!!***

Relift engine, turn off light lock garage door and retire very confused. Good rub down with Swarfega , followed by a scrubbing down in the bath with a stiff brush and a hosing down from the shower. ( She's got some really kinky ideas has Helen) .Maybe I'll fill in the lettuce planting plot).Several glasses of wine and a mega stir fry , with thought turning to how a Peugeot 405 would look leading a column of Merlins through France Bed 1am 2am 3am thoughts of returning to the scrap yard with a tape measure to see if they are all that way or if this particular CS is another of life's little character building enrichments. No there must be another way.

Spacers under the engine mounts. YES YES

YES 6 hours of blissful sleep.

Sunday 10 am well us genius mechanics ( or is that maniacs) are allowed a lay in now and again. Spacers how thick? Made of what? 3 mm plastic sheeting. OK so steel plate would seem more appropriate but I ain't got any and it is Sunday and they come to take the engine hoist away in the morning.

As luck would have it plastic sheeting is a commodity I do have. Well plastic trays to be exact. Half an hour latter and 4 60mm discs with a precision 10mm hole in the centre all ready to test the theory. Lift engine clear slide spacers into place lower engine and 6 or 7 mm of clearance between CS and cross member. YES! YES! YES. EASY! EASY! EASY!

A couple of hours reconnecting and refilling, I hate EP80 it stinks. Much scrubbing of garage floor cement works wonders on oil. And its finished.

Not sure the plastic will hold up under pressure...solution get some metal ones made up, the engine will only need to be lifted a few mm to slide out the plastic and slide in the metal.

Theres a little more.........................