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My Td5 Conversion - Disaster and Recovery

Coming back from Leamington one evening, just three days after getting the engine running, it suddenly lost power on the M40. Coming off the motorway at Gaydon it was very sluggish, and then the engine died 3 miles from home. It would not restart, so I called Dad and while he trolled up in the Series I, I popped the bonnet.

To my horror, there was pink antifreeze everywhere. The fuel cooler was missing a clip, and this had caused most of the coolant to escape, and the engine had overheated. I didn't spot this because we didn't have a water temperature gauge, since the Td5 has an ECU-controlled gauge, and we didn't have one.

We towed my Land Rover back home, and left it overnight to cool down. We were thinking the worst.

The next morning, it was clear that the engine had been damaged, although it still fired and ran OK. The cooling system was pressurising, which meant that the head gasket had been damaged, and this could mean the head was warped.

However, with the head off, it was clear that the head gasket had blown in three places. I then remembered that Land Rover say that you cannot skim the head on the Td5, so if it was warped, it could be scrap.

With a new head gasket and head bolts ordered, we took the stripped head down to a engineering company near Witney, who confirmed that the head was warped. They recommended another engineering company who had a machine wide enough to re-face the head.

FJ Payne & Son in Eynsham took the head and skimmed 5 thousandths of an inch off the face of the head, much against the advice of Land Rover. We got the head back, and reassembled the top of the engine. We changed the oil as it had been 'cooked' in the overheat and was mostly black carbon.

With the engine back together, and the fuel system bled back through, the engine fired, and sounded fine. The cooling system was normal, so we'd cured the fault.

So it looks as if we've recovered a warped Td5 head. We have now fitted the temperature sender from the TD engine into the heater pipe that runs off the top hose, and wired that through to the temperature gauge, so there is now an indication of the water temperature.

And that is where we are at the moment. There are still a few little jobs to do, like fit the correct Td5 instruments (fuel gauge, water temperature gauge) and a bonnet prop, but it's just a case of testing it and keeping an eye on the levels.

But, has it been worth it? Absolutely! It's amazing what fifteen years of engine development does, the Td5 will pull 5th gear from 35mph all the way to 80+ (I bottled out at 80..), and it accelerates like a train. It will be a brilliant tow car, which was the whole point!

I'll keep these pages (or the main "My Land Rover" page) updated with news about the engine, and I'll see you at Peterborough. If you see it, and want a look under the bonnet or wherever, give me a shout!

Martin (Td5 Lunatic, apparently)

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