Well, lately I've felt like a contestant on Strictly Dumb Dancing as it's been a case of one step forwards, two back, one forward.
You may remember I had a cambelt change that was something of a poor job and so needed re-timing by another mechanic? Well.....
On the front foot, I had a trip to Barnsley to pick up the leather rear seats (see photo in post from 09/02/17) and then over to Huddersfield to see Barry (and his lovely red Puma) and grab the rear bumper from his scrapper for a forthcoming project idea. Cheers for that mate.
All in all, it was a very pleasant trip, not even marred by the fact that Barry had promised Custards Creams but delivered Bourbons, you just can't trust anyone these days
Pleasant until the last 10 miles that was, when it soon became apparent that you really can't trust anyone these days as my engine started playing up again. With it repeatedly cutting out, I had to keep the revs high with the right foot, use the clutch with the left and the handbrake to slow at the lights and junctions; it was "fun".
So, on the back foot, out with the Forscan and yup, it's Bletchley Park in there: there was the P1381 code again (VCT overadvanced, bank A) only this time it was having a hut party with C1967 (RDO short circuit to ground, whatever that is) and B2261 (Parking lamp switch failure, which we're assuming is side lights?) It was that damn P code again though I was most concerned about. Comedy is apparently all about timing and cars must be very similar because when it's out, it just ain't funny.
On chatting to my mechanic mate it transpires that somehow (despite my informing him of the need for them) new stretch bolts were not used in the re-time. I despaired but at least it seemed we had a diagnosis.
Trying to get just the replacement bolts on their own though proved something of a stretch in itself. I was getting conflicting info from local Ford dealers (both in terms of part numbers and the nomenclature of the required bolts) while neither Dayco or Gates supply them separately. Eventually, after a bit of detective work, I managed to narrow it down. For future ref... the VCT pulley bolt is Ford 1126969 and the crankshaft bolt is 1057134.
My eyes widened though at the cost. The Ford dealer quoted me just over £15 for the VCT pulley bolt (on eBay they were just under £14) and just under a fiver for the crankshaft pulley bolt, which on eBay were double the price for one listing and £15 for the other. Maybe they should be called "stretching it" bolts?
My eyes positively popped out though when, after discovering a bit of wear around the bolt hole on the VCT pulley itself, I asked Ford how much a new pulley would cost.... a rather staggering £520 being the reply!!!
So a 2nd hand one at £42 from Ian G it was, cheers fella.
With all that done, car was re-timed and taken out for a test drive ... and the little b*gger did exactly the same thing again!! Another step back goes I.
My mechanic was rather stumped and I was something else rather more fruitily Anglo-Saxon... so in desperation, I put out a shout to the stout-hearted souls of Project Puma via "Help Me" and in an avalanche of indifference received exactly zero replies. I was now feeling sorry for myself.
Then, just as I railed against "The Gods" for their capricious nature; the Variable Control Timing* for being far too variable and not nearly controlled enough, and I was on the verge of abandoning all hope, there was a crack of thunder (I really need to change my ringtone) and then the voice of an angel come to deliver me from my torment... actually it was more of a baritone Yorkshireman as it was Barry on the phone, my hero! (He has long flowing locks just like Fabio too...honest!)
He reckoned that my mech' hadn't actually followed the correct procedure regarding the tensioner as outlined in the Gates tech bulletin. Now this would have been entirely feasible if not for the fact that I had specifically warned my mechanic about this rather specific procedure, and sent him the specific tech bulletin (twice) and also sent him a link to the very specific "How To Guide" with illustrated Ford TIS from PP's own pages...(all in all, I thought I'd been quite specific on this point) so surely Barry was, dare I say it, gulp, wrong?!
After chatting it through Barry kindly also agreed to speak to my mech' mate and at that point I learnt two valuable lessons...
1) When it comes to Puma cambelts, Barry is never wrong!
2) When it comes to mechanics, the saying "you can lead a horse to water but you can't make it drink" might have been invented for them, if it hadn't already been invented for horses of course. Hmmm, how about "You can lead a mechanic to data but you can't make them think?"
That's really overly harsh to my mate to be fair, it's more that because they have done cambelts X times they think the Puma is just another job, and even if you tell them it isn't they can adopt that "yeah,yeah,yeah, I'll be fine" attitude... which eventually ends up with three attempts at re-timing someone else's poor cambelt change. Four attempts by two different mechanics should be a warning to anyone that the Puma needs more attention than most in this department.
My advice is: if you are going to tackle this yourself make sure you've got the skills and the specific tools and that you follow the Gates bulletin and Barry's wise words to the letter.
Cheers again for all your help on it mate.
If you can't take it on yourself then get a mechanic who's done Puma VCT's successfully before or, failing that, give him all the information and INSIST he reads & FULLY understands it (among other things, the correct pre-tensioning of the adjuster is critical) and preferably kidnap his family pet as insurance that the job is done correctly. Fido's tooth for a tooth jumped seems fair.
In the North West, there is at least one more mechanic who could now do it as he's had enough practice... though whether he'll ever want to see a Puma again after the amount of stick he's had over this is another question
So, hopefully, after another set of bolts, it's now one step forward again and my timing tango is complete... next up, a rumba with rust....
*Edit it's actually "Variable Camshaft Timing", maybe that was my problem all along?